HOUSTON – Since his arrest four years ago, the man known as the “Railroad Killer” has given authorities crucial details that have helped close four murder cases in three states.
However, Angel Maturino Resendiz, who sits on Texas’ death row for one of 14 murders he is accused of committing, has failed to convince investigators he was behind another murder.
Two people are serving life sentences for a June 1998 slaying of a man near Houston that Maturino Resendiz claims he killed.
“Nobody seems to be interested in these cases,” Maturino Resendiz, 43, told the Associated Press in an interview from death row. “One thing you can take back on this case, they can never prove one case that I’ve claimed that I haven’t done.”
Information Maturino Resendiz has provided has led to the discovery of a body in Florida and to official conclusions that he was the killer in two slayings there: one in Texas’ Bexar County and another at Carl, Ga., where authorities dropped charges against another man.
In all, authorities believe he is responsible for seven killings in Texas, two in Florida, two in Illinois and one each in California, Kentucky and Georgia, all near the freight train lines he rode from coast to coast.
After investigators began linking the killings, Maturino Resendiz, an itinerant laborer from a small Mexican village, was persuaded to cross the border and surrender in 1999.
But despite the string of crimes linked to him, prosecutors discounted his confession in the 1998 slaying of Darryl Kolojaco.
Harris County Prosecutor Vic Wisner, who convinced two juries that Kolojaco’s wife got her lover to commit the murder, said details given by Maturino Resendiz don’t add up.
“Either he (saw news accounts) or somebody clued him in on the case. But his story is impossible as to how he claimed it happened,” Wisner said.
Assistant District Attorney Lyn McClellan, who helped secure the conviction and death sentence for Maturino Resendiz in the December 1998 slaying Dr. Claudia Benton, a Houston-area medical researcher, said authorities have good reason to dispute his statements.
“I’m confident Resendiz will do anything and everything to basically draw attention to himself,” said McClellan, who was not familiar with details of the Kolojaco case.
Attorneys for Diamantina Kolojaco, 42, and her 27-year-old boyfriend, Andres Moscorro, who were convicted in the slaying, hope a court will consider his confession.
Lawyers for both believe their clients were tricked or bullied into confessing, a claim Harris County Sheriff’s Detective Charles A. Leithner denies. Leithner believes the pair are desperate and will say anything for a chance at freedom.
Authorities believe Darryl Kolojaco was killed for $100,000 in insurance money.
Maturino Resendiz maintains Kolojaco picked him up for day labor work and then took him to his home, where the man touched him in a homosexual pass. Diamantina Kolojaco has said her husband was bisexual.
“Everything started going crazy. The color became gray-blue,” said Maturino Resendiz, who has reported similar blackouts before other killings.
In a 2001 letter to his trial judge, Bill Harmon, Maturino Resendiz accurately described the Kolojaco home, down to two distinctive fence styles and “some big tree that almost touches the house.”
Wisner said that, among other inconsistencies, Kolojaco did not have access to a car the night of his slaying and could not have picked up Maturino Resendiz.
“His story does not check out. It’s impossible,” Wisner said.
Maturino Resendiz’ appellate attorney Les Ribnik believes that even though his client is unstable, he could hold the secrets of other killings that would die with him if he is executed.
“The state should be patient and wait for my guy to die another day so these other cases can possibly cleared (by judicial review),” he said.
Maturino Resendiz’s conviction and sentence in Benton’s murder were recently upheld in the first step of the automatic appeals of death sentence cases. His court-appointed attorneys, who claimed he is insane, will continue the appellate process unless he stops them.