During it’s opening statement to the jury at the beginning of the trial, the defense stated that the murderer suffered mental and emotional damage from childhood, caused by the alcoholism, particularly the mother’s, and brutality by the parents and, somewhat, by his five older siblings. The parents were excessive drinkers of alcohol, especially damaging was the mother’s constant drinking throughout her six pregnancies which led to the murderer’s emotional & mental instability. Fetal Alcohol Spectum Disorder – FASD – is the problem and the defense will rely on expert witnesses.
The murderer was “dissociative,” a loner within the family, at school and in the Marines, and, in general, socially. The defense claimed he lost a sense of morality, losing sense of self and a loss of normal empathy and sympathy toward his victims. Murders gave him no sense of satisfaction or a release of some kind.
This week the defense opened up it’s presentation by calling an older brother and two sisters who gave testimony about the family, parents and the young murderer. Also called were two witnesses who knew the murderer as a young kid and classmate. It seemed to me the defense was caught off guard by all the witnesses, their testimony was not what the defense expected, they went off script. Their testimony generally contradicted the defense’s opening statement as to the cause of the murderer’s cruel and brutal killing rampage.
I wonder what the defense was expecting, that sibling paint the family as dysfunctional caused by alcoholism and brutality, thus causing the murderer to become a serial killer? Instead, the siblings hedged their descriptions of family life and the family treatment of the young murderer.
Basically the siblings agreed that the family, including the parents, was normal although the parents would often fight. Corporal punishment was common, using a strap or belt, usually given for real or imagined misbehavior. The family was afraid of the father when he had frequent fits of anger, but, they all said the parents were not cruel. The murderer would hide when there was any kind of fighting in the family. Key point was that the siblings all said that the murderer never suffered physical harm from the parents or family, he was protected by his mother. A sister testified that the murderer was a normal, happy boy with siblings and parents…a normal happy family enjoying vacations and family interaction.
The siblings agreed that the mother did not drink during pregnancy, including the murderer’s. Drinking in the family was always social – family gatherings, holidays, special occasions, no more or less that other families in the neighborhood. The siblings also agreed that the older kids looked after, nurtured, the murderer; they acted as “big” brothers and sisters looking out for, protecting, the youngest.
Sibling and school acquaintances said that in grammar and high school, the murderer continued to be a loner. He was a small kid and was often attacked and beaten by older, cruel kids in the rough neighborhood where the family lived. Strange, everyone in the neighborhood knew of, or witnessed, the attacks but nobody came to help or stop the beatings. Only one sister tried to stop the attacks by beating up the aggressors herself. Question: how can you have a loving family if the youngest is allowed to be beaten every day?
All the family testimony was a mess. It seemed to me that the whole truth was not being told, the family members were trying to protect the family and/or some secret. I think there is a deeper family story that the defense or prosecutor do not want to pursue. The brother testified that he never witnessed compulsive behavior with women by the murderer, he was respectful to women. What caused the murderer to become a submissive, weak loner, allowing himself to be beaten every day, shunned by classmates and Marines. The brother said the murderer was never examined by a doctor or phycoanalyst. Why the turnaround by the murderer – weak, submissive turned into a cruel, hate filled brutal murderer of young women? Where did that come from? Is the answer in family secrets?…the darkest being “the sin that dare not speak it’s name.” (Oliver Wilde)
Regardless of the family babble and the psychobabble, Urdiales murdered eight times…merciless, cruelly, hatefully, no emotion.
A school acquaintance witness said that at the 10th high school reunion in 1992, the murderer followed him into an empty latrine and told him that he killed two prostitutes in California. The witness believed the murderer because of the intensity. The witness discussed this with his wife but they decided to not tell police; if they had, at least one young woman would be alive today, she was murdered in 1996.