Born with a cleft palate and chronic hormonal imbalance, Mauricio Silva started life with two strikes against him. Strike three was his temper, which led to the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old boy in 1978. Initially charged with murder, Silva struck a plea bargain for manslaughter and served five years in prison, including time added for his violent assault on a fellow inmate. Paroled on May 7, 1984, he wasted no time in killing again. On May 18, while riding a bus in Los Angeles, Silva met 16-year-old Walter Sanders, somehow convincing the youth to join him on a drive through the barren Mojave Desert. Five miles east of Pearlblossom, they left the car and Silva took a shotgun with him, firing five rounds at close range to be certain the young man was dead. On May 24, he picked up a teenaged hitchhiker, Monique Hilton, and drove into the desert east of Palmdale, California, using the shotgun again in a ritualistic form of execution. Four days later, Silva switched to strangulation, invading the home of his own half-sister, 17-year-old Martha Kitzler, with whom he had stayed periodically since his parole. The crime led police to their man, and this time there would be no plea bargains as Silva faced three counts of first-degree murder. Tried for his crimes in Los Angeles, Silva was convicted April 17, 1985, on two counts of first-degree murder (Sanders and Hilton), with one count of second-degree (Kitzler). Prosecutors sought the death penalty, while Silva's defender played on the theme of a traumatic childhood, describing the prisoner as a child of unfeeling parents, with "no house to call his home." After thirteen days of deliberation, the jury split seven to five in favor of execution, their deadlock leaving Silva with a mandatory sentence of life without parole.