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First Texas murder charge in 'Railway Killer' case


Map of crime trail


Mutual trust helped Texas Ranger get his man

Criminal record of Maturino Resendez

Maturino Resendez' immediate family lives in Juarez, Mexico. CNN's Jennifer Auther goes there.
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Prosecutor Devon Anderson talks about her case Wednesday. (Note: Some audio can't be heard.)
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Defense attorney Alan Tanner offers comment Wednesday. (Note: Some audio can't be heard.)
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Death penalty for 'Railway Killer' suspect?

In Texas, a charge of capital murder can only be filed when there is evidence that a murder occurred during the commission of certain felonies, including burglary.

Under Texas law, anybody convicted of capital murder faces either execution or life imprisonment.

More to come?

July 15, 1999
Web posted at: 8:01 a.m. EDT (1201 GMT)

In this story:

Ninth murder



HOUSTON (CNN) -- A Mexican drifter, formally accused of murdering an elderly Texas woman and believed responsible for at least eight other U.S. killings, was being held without bond in a Houston jail on Thursday.

During a court appearance on Wednesday, the rail-hopping fugitive who triggered one of the largest manhunts in recent history abandoned his alias and appeared anxious to acknowledge guilt.

Police say 39-year-old Angel Maturino Resendez -- better known by the alias Rafael Resendez-Ramirez -- has not confessed to any killings.

During Wednesday's bail hearing on a burglary charge, Harris County prosecutors described the bloody killing of a Houston woman, and the suspect made a request. "Can all this be done very quickly so I can say I'm guilty?" Maturino Resendez asked District Judge Bill Harmon, who told him no plea could be taken yet and denied bond.

It was unclear whether Maturino Resendez was specifically addressing the burglary charge or the more serious allegations against him.

Ninth murder

Until Wednesday, he had been charged with two slayings in Illinois and one in Kentucky, and was suspected of five Texas killings.

Shortly after the Houston hearing, however, the total reached nine when prosecutors in Cass County charged him with the October 2 robbery-slaying of 87-year-old Leafie Mason.

She was bludgeoned in her home in Hughes Springs, a town about 230 miles north of Houston.

Until that charge was filed, the only count against him in Texas was burglary at the scene where Dr. Claudia Benton, 39, was killed December 17 in her Houston home.

The decision of whether to charge Maturino Resendez with capital murder in Benton's death rests with Harris County District Attorney Johnny Holmes. Prosecutors said DNA evidence might link him to her slaying.

Alan Tanner, one of two attorneys appointed to represent Maturino Resendez, said Wednesday he does not know if his client is guilty of anything.

"I'm not even convinced he's done anything yet. All he's been charged with is a burglary in Harris County," said Tanner, who is handling the case with co-counsel Rudy Duarte.

Angel Maturino Resendez
Texas authorities expect to file murder charges against Maturino Resendez after DNA tests are completed  


Mason, who lived most of her life within 50 yards of a Kansas City-Southern rail line that bisects Hughes Springs, was beaten to death with her antique iron by someone who entered her home through a window.

Like several other victims Maturino Resendez is suspected of killing, her body and that of Benton were covered by blankets. A police crime lab said a palm print found on Mason's window matched that of the suspect.

Maturino Resendez surrendered to the Texas Rangers after crossing the border from Mexico into El Paso on Tuesday. The surrender followed a manhunt that landed him on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.

Investigators have said they have no idea what motivated the killings, which began with the August 29, 1997, slaying of a 21-year-old college student in Kentucky who was attacked while walking with his girlfriend along railroad tracks.

The rest of the killings have come since September. The most recent were those of a 79-year-old man and his 51-year-old daughter, found dead June 15 in Gorham, Illinois.

Correspondents Charles Zewe and Jennifer Auther contributed to this report

'Railway Killer' probe expands
July 14, 1999
'Railway Killer' suspect surrenders in Texas
July 13, 1999
FBI: '200 million pairs of eyes' looking for suspected killer
July 11, 1999
Wife of suspected serial killer brought to U.S. for FBI interview
July 7, 1999
INS blames antiquated computer for 'railway killer' foul-up
July 3, 1999
INS told about murder suspect, but freed him
July 1, 1999

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