Andrew Urdiales, 47, arrived in California Thursday after being extradited from Illinois.
He is accused of murdering five women between 1986 and 1995 in Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties. Urdiales allegedly committed four of the murders while stationed at various military facilities in the three-county region and accused of killing the fifth woman while on vacation in Palm Springs in 1995.
Urdiales was serving time for the killing of three prostitutes in Illinois before his extradition Thursday.
He was arrested in 1996 in Indiana when he was stopped by police while loitering in an area known for prostitution. Police found a gun in his car that was identified as the weapon used to kill three women in Illinois.
Urdiales was charged with the five Southern California murders in 1997. He moved to Southern California in 1984 as a 19-year-old Marine.
Urdiales had been sentenced to death for three murders in Illinois, but two of those sentences were commuted to life without the possibility of parole in 2002 by then-Gov. George Ryan. When Illinois banned the death penalty this year, Urdiales' third death sentence also was commuted to life without the possibility of parole.
All five Southern California cases will be prosecuted in Orange County in a combined court proceeding.
Urdiales could be eligible for the death penalty in California if convicted, but Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has not yet made a determination on whether to pursue death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.