Death was apparently preferable to life on California's Death Row for serial killer Andrew Urdiales. The 54-year-old inmate was found dead in his cell at San Quentin State Prison on Friday night and authorities believe he killed himself, News 10 reports. Urdiales was sentenced to death by an Orange County judge Oct. 5 for killing five women in California between 1986 and 1995, four of them while he was stationed at Marine Corps Base Pendleton, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It was the third time he had been sentenced to death: He was sentenced to die in 2002 for two murders in Illinois, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, along with all other death sentences in the state, by Gov. George Ryan in 2003.
Urdiales was then tried for a third Illinois murder and sentenced to death again in 2004. After Gov. Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty in Illinois in 2011, Urdiales was extradited to California. Urdiales "remained a callous coward until the end as he robbed the victims' families of the right to be present when the state put him to death," Orange County DA Tony Rackauckas said in a statement. Less than 24 hours after the death of Urdiales, a different Death Row prisoner was found dead of an apparent suicide in a different area of San Quentin. Authorities do not believe the death of 51-year-old Virendra Govin, who was sentenced to die in 2005 for killing a business rival, her two children, and her mother-in-law, is related to that of Urdiales. (California hasn't executed anybody since 2006, and San Quentin is running out of space.)