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Closing Arguments Begin in Southern California Serial Killings Trial

Closing arguments began Monday in the trial of a man accused in the deaths of five women in three Southern California counties, including a college student who was attacked in a campus parking lot.

Andrew Urdiales, 53, was already convicted in an Illinois triple-murder case that put him on the radar of investigators in the Southern California serial killings. Urdiales was arrested in 1997 on suspicion of killing an Orange County woman when he was a Marine at Camp Pendleton. He also is accused of killing four other women, in Riverside and San Diego counties, when he was stationed at Twenty-Nine Palms. 

The Illinois slayings for which he was convicted occurred after he left the military.

Prosecutors were expected to present their closing argument Monday. Defense attorneys will likely make their case on Tuesday.

The California serial killings from 1986 to 1995 began with an attack on a Saddleback College student, according to investigators. The body of Robbin Brandley was found in a school parking lot, stabbed 41 times. She had been working earlier than night as an usher at a campus event.

The case went cold for years, during which the bodies of several women with ties to prostitution were found in remote and secluded parts of Riverside and San Diego counties. A break came in 1996 when Chicago police investigating the deaths of three women in Illinois learned that a man later identified as Urdiales had been pulled over with a revolver in his car in Indiana. 

That revolver was matched to bullets found in the bodies of the three victims in Illinois.

It was Urdiales who then told Chicago detectives that they also might want to ask him about people in California, Orange County prosecutors said in opening statements. He subsequently spoke with Orange County investigators, and he was charged in 1997 in connection with the California slayings.

He was extradited to California following trials in Illinois.

Defense attorneys have argued that Urdiales suffered from a difficult childhood and was born with brain damage due to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. He confessed to police, but defense attorneys said he seem disassociated from the crimes.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV
Source: NBC San Diego

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