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Former Marine accused of SoCal murder spree faces death penalty

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- Closing arguments began this week for a former Marine who is accused of murdering five women while stationed at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms.

Andrew Urdiales, 53, could be sentenced to death if he is convicted of first-degree murder charges in an Orange County courtroom. He’s accused in a murder spree in Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties that started in January of 1986 and continued through 1995.

While a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, prosecutors say Urdiales took a hunting knife and went cruising for a victim. They say he attacked a 23-year-old student at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. Police say Urdiales confessed to stabbing her more than 40 times.

Prosecutors say Urdiales, while stationed at Twentynine Palms, shot and killed four more women, including Mary Ann Wells, a 31-year-old prostitute from San Diego, whose body was found in an abandoned warehouse.

In 1997, Urdiales was arrested in Illinois. He was convicted for murdering three women there. In 2011 he was transferred to California to be tried for the five murders here.