Railroad killer gets death penalty

HOUSTON - The admitted railroad killer who made the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List was sentenced to death Monday for killing a Houston-area doctor, one of nine murders he was accused of committing.

The same jury that convicted Angel Maturino Resendiz of capital murder last week met for just less than two hours before deciding on the death sentence. The panel could have sentenced the Mexican drifter to life in prison.

Before State District Judge Bill Harmon imposed the sentence, he asked Maturino Resendiz if he had anything to say.

''That police officer lied under oath, and I don't think that it's right,'' Maturino Resendiz said, pointing to Texas Ranger Drew Carter, the officer he surrendered to on the American side of an international bridge spanning El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on July 13.

''He lied under oath,'' Maturino Resendiz said.

Harmon ignored the comment and told him an appeal of his death sentence was automatic and he would appoint attorneys to handle the appeal.

The rail-riding drifter has acknowledged committing the murders and had asked for the death penalty over the objections of his attorneys, who have argued throughout the 11 days of testimony that their client is insane.

On Thursday, the jury rejected the insanity plea and convicted Maturino Resendiz of capital murder in the death of Claudia Benton, who was attacked and bludgeoned in her own home just before Christmas 1998.

''He has forfeited his right to be among us,'' prosecutor Devon Anderson said, asking jurors for the death penalty in closing arguments Monday.

Defense attorney Allen Tanner said Maturino Resendiz had been unfairly tricked into surrendering on the Texas side of the border so he could be eligible for the death penalty, which Mexico does not impose.

''This is a case of where our government lured a sick man across the bridge promising him and his family he would receive humane treatment,'' Tanner said. ''He received humane treatment and now it's time to kill him. We can't as a nation put up with that kind of activity.''

The state's final witness Monday was its most powerful. The woman, whose name was withheld, testified about being beaten and raped along a Lexington, Ky., railroad line in the early hours of Aug. 29, 1997.

Maturino Resendiz emerged from the darkness as the woman and her boyfriend, fellow University of Kentucky student Christopher Maier, 21, were drinking beer and watching trains go by as they trekked between fraternity parties. At first the attacker robbed them with an unknown sharp object in his hand, she said.

Then, the drifter tied them up and dragged Maier away.

''Chris was saying, 'Don't hurt her, leave her alone,' '' the woman said, fighting through tears. ''He came over and hit Chris. It seemed like a big log, but it was a rock, I found out later.

''I heard Chris gurgling and asked (Maturino Resendiz) to go make sure Chris' head was turned to the side to make sure Chris wouldn't choke on his own blood,'' she continued. ''He did, and then said, 'He's gone. You won't have to worry about him anymore.' ''

As Maturino Resendiz advanced upon her, the woman said she was kicking and screaming until he jabbed her in the neck with the sharp object.

''He said, 'Look how easily I could kill you,' '' she testified. ''So I just stopped.''

Maier's was the first known death in a two-year killing spree that caught the nation's attention last spring when investigators realized that the same person likely was responsible for several slayings near railroad tracks, mostly in Texas.

There was outrage when it was learned that Maturino Resendiz, already a suspect, was arrested by Border Patrol agents in New Mexico on June 2, 1999, only to be released into Mexico. He was tied to two Texas slayings and two more in Illinois before Carter brokered his July 13 surrender.

Maturino Resendiz, a Mexican citizen, also has told the court he would drop any and all appeals, which would mean he could be executed in as soon as one year if the initial automatic review of his case finds no errors.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment