Green River Killer pleads guilty to 49th murder

SEATTLE Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:36pm EST

1 of 6. Gary Leon Ridgway, the Green River Killer, and his attorney Mark Prothero, sit in court for Ridgway's guilty plea to aggravated first-degree murder in the death of Rebecca 'Becky' Marrero at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, Washington, February 18, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Marcus Donner

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SEATTLE (Reuters) - Convicted "Green River Killer" Gary Ridgway pleaded guilty on Friday to his 49th murder charge, after being shouted down in court by a man in the audience as he tried to apologize.

Ridgway, who is considered the nation's most prolific serial killer, spoke in a hoarse voice as he entered the guilty plea on his 62nd birthday, admitting that he killed 20-year-old Rebecca Marrero, who was last seen alive on December 3, 1982.

Under a plea deal Ridgway made in 2003, he was spared the death penalty in exchange for confessing to all of the murders linked to him at the time or any that were later discovered.

Ridgway, who is serving a life prison term without the possibility of parole, had previously confessed to Marrero's murder but prosecutors said at the time that they didn't have enough evidence include her killing in the plea deal.

The convicted killer started to apologize in court on Friday for Marrero's murder, but was cut off when an unidentified man sitting with the victim's family began shouting obscenities at him.

The victim's sister, Mary Marrero, her 79-year-old mother standing shakily at her side, told King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts that her family has been devastated by the murder and wished that Ridgway faced the death penalty.

"The day she came up missing I wanted to kill myself," Mary Marrero said, her voice breaking. "I still feel that today ... There is so much anger. What does it take to get the death penalty in the state of Washington? I do not agree with this plea deal."

"If I had one thing to ask today, it would be to kill him," she said.

"I appreciate you are not content with the outcome of this case," Roberts said to Marrero's family. "But I hope find some justice in it."

Ridgway has confessed to nearly 70 murders, most of his victims young female prostitutes or runaways. He was dubbed the Green River killer because the bodies of several of his victims in the early 1980s were found in or near the river, which runs through south King County.

Marrero's skeletal remains were found by teenagers December 23 of last year.

Rebecca Marrero, the mother of a 3-year-old girl, was last seen alive leaving a motel near the Seattle-Tacoma Airport.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb)

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