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Railway killer suspect indicted for capital murder



Crime and Punishment


Map of crime trail

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.


July 22, 1999
Web posted at: 1:59 p.m. EDT (1759 GMT)

HOUSTON (CNN) -- Suspected railway killer Angel Maturino Resendez is expected in court Friday to answer to a capital murder charge in the beating and stabbing death of Dr. Claudia Benton, who was killed in her Houston home. A Harris County grand jury on Thursday indicted Maturino Resendez in her death.

Assistant District Attorney Devon Anderson said a decision will be made before the trial whether to seek the death penalty. The murder trial is expected to start early next year.

Maturino Resendez is to be arraigned August 13 on a burglary charge in the case.

Benton was killed December 17. Anderson said prosecutors had decided to present their "strongest case based on the evidence" against Maturino Resendez first. The jury convened Thursday morning, and returned their verdict in about 45 minutes.

Police said they found fingerprints and DNA evidence inside Benton's home that link Maturino Resendez to the killing. Sources said evidence from the home matched DNA taken from the blood, hair and saliva of Maturino Resendez following his arrest last week.

Sources told CNN that DNA taken from Benton's home matched DNA found in the blood, hair and saliva of Maturino Resendez after his arrest. Prosecutors had already charged Maturino Resendez with burglarizing her house.

Authorities said they found one of Maturino Resendez's fingerprints in Benton's stolen Jeep, and jewelry associated with her in his home in his native Mexico.

Prosecutors in 3 states ready with charges

Maturino Resendez also either has been charged or is a suspect in eight other murders in Texas, Illinois and Kentucky. All the slayings occurred near railroad tracks.

Prosecutors and law enforcement officials from those states agreed that Houston would go first in prosecuting him.

Sources said DNA matches also were found in the killings of a University of Kentucky student, who died in August 1997; minister Norman Sirnic, 46, and his wife, Karen Sirnic, 47, found dead May 2 in Weimar, Texas; and Noemi Dominguez, a 26- year-old Houston schoolteacher, found beaten to death June 5.

The 39-year-old Mexican drifter surrendered to authorities in El Paso on July 13, after a manhunt in the United States and Mexico that put him on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.

DNA tests reportedly link suspect to railway killer slayings
July 20, 1999
First Texas murder charge in 'Railway Killer' case
July 15, 1999
'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

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