Jury rejects insanity defense, convicts Texas Railroad Killer

HOUSTON - The Texas Railroad Killer told a judge he wants the death penalty after a jury rejected an insanity defense and convicted him of murder Thursday in the rape and slaying of a doctor.

''I've decided that injection is better than spending life in jail,'' Angel Maturino Resendiz said outside the presence of the jury. ''Can I tell you my reason? I'm 41, plus 40 years is 81, and I might not make it all the way.''

The jury later begin hearing testimony on whether Resendiz should receive death by injection or life in prison with no possibility of parole for 40 years.

The drifter from Mexico has admitted killing nine people as he made his way around the United States hopping freight trains. He made the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list just before his surrender last summer.

The jury took 10 hours to convict him Thursday of breaking into the Houston-area home of 39-year-old Dr. Claudia Benton in 1998, sexually assaulting her and bludgeoning and stabbing her to death.

The defense had argued that Maturino Resendiz was insane and could not be held responsible for his actions.

As the verdict was announced, Maturino Resendiz's mother dabbed her eyes with a tissue. Benton's husband, George, nodded and looked straight at Maturino Resendiz. Relatives of other victims embraced and patted each other on the back. One person turned around and gave the OK symbol.

The prosecution then began calling witnesses to show Maturino Resendiz would present a danger to society. Maturino Resendiz told the judge he didn't want his lawyers to mount a defense during the punishment phase.

Investigators said Maturino Resendiz' two-year killing spree began in 1997 with a slaying in Lexington, Ky. Two people were killed in Illinois and six in Texas. All of the slayings took place near train tracks.

After a manhunt that crossed international borders, Maturino Resendiz was arrested at the Mexican border by a Texas Ranger who had brokered a deal with Maturino Resendiz's sister.

The Houston-area slaying was the first killing for which he was tried. Maturino Resendiz is awaiting trial in the other cases.

Defense experts testified he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, thought he possessed supernatural powers and believed he was doing God's work. According to testimony, glue-sniffing and several childhood head injuries - his mother said he was dropped on his head right after he was born - could have played a role in his mental illness.

''He felt an evil force pulling him into these homes and directing him to people who were evil and deserved to be dead, and as an angel of God he was doing God's will,'' psychologist Larry Pollock said.

Prosecution experts said Maturino Resendiz could still tell right from wrong.


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