Hammer comes down on ‘Iron Man’ for slaying
Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Oct. 24, 2003
A federal judge sentenced a convicted murderer, who was described as a white supremacist gang captain, to 33 years in prison Thursday for his part in the execution-style killing of a man on the Padre Island National Seashore.
U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack handed down the sentence to Jerry Michael Walters, 35, known as “Iron Man” to his friends in the Aryan Brotherhood gang, after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the April 3 slaying of 28-year-old Joe Urdiales on the seashore. The case was in federal court because the crime occurred on federally owned land.
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The killing was punishment for deceiving members of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, according to court records. The indictment alleges that Walters, along with Aaron Kelly, Abelardo Godoy IV and Juan Daniel Cardenas, assaulted Urdiales at a local apartment before heading to the seashore. Along the way, they picked up Michael Ronje, according to court records.
An FBI agent said in court that the men stabbed Urdiales and forced sand down his throat while he lay dying.
Each of the men charged with murder pleaded guilty. Kelly and Ronje each were already sentenced to serve 19 years in federal prison, without parole. Cardenas will serve 17 years. Godoy will serve seven years.
Walters’ sentence was longer because of his leadership role.
Still, the victim’s family said 33 years was too light.
“It’s not enough for taking somebody’s life,” the victim’s father said outside of the courtroom after the hearing. “As far as feeling sorry for him, we don’t. The only ones I feel sorry for are his kids.”
When given the opportunity, Walters did not say anything to the victim’s family, who sat in the back row of the courthouse. The four other men involved in the murder each apologized to the family, Jack told Walters from the bench.
Walters’ lawyer, Richard Rodgers, said he was not surprised when his client stood silent and motionless when asked if he wanted to talk to the victim’s family. He said Walters was realizing he would be going to prison until he is 68 years old.
Rodgers said he and his client had hoped Jack would pass a lighter sentence because Walters spared the government a jury trial. Jack could have sentenced Walters to a few as 22 years, according to federal guidelines.
Anthony Reyes also was indicted on a charge of failing to report the killing to authorities. He has not been sentenced.