Michael Gargiulo, otherwise known as the “Hollywood Ripper,” was found guilty of murder and attempted murder in a Los Angeles courtroom on Thursday, August 15. The verdict came down nearly three months after Ashton Kutcher testified against him.
The serial killer, 43, was charged with the February 2001 murder of Ashley Ellerin and the December 2005 slaying of Maria Bruno. He also attacked Michelle Murphy in April 2008, stabbing her eight times.
The penalty phase of the case will begin on Tuesday, August 20. Jurors will hear from both the defense and the prosecution about what type of punishment Gargiulo should receive. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, and while jurors will weigh in on his sentencing, the court will make the final decision as to whether he will get capital punishment.
Kutcher, who was friends with Ellerin at the time of her death, testified in May. He recalled the night of her murder as he planned to take her to a Grammys afterparty on February 21, 2001. However, she was found dead in her Hollywood Hills home after being stabbed 47 times. The 22-year-old fashion student’s roommate discovered her body the following morning.
“I called [Ashley] around 7:30 p.m. because I was running late,” the actor, 41, said at the time. “At 8:24, she said she got out of the shower and she said she was calling from her friend Jen’s phone. I was like, ‘I will see you later.’ That was about it.”
When Kutcher attempted to call her back, she did not answer her phone. “I was trying to take her on a date and I didn’t want to sound overeager, so I just left her a message,” he recalled.
The That ‘70s Show alum proceeded to her home, but she failed to come to the door. He saw what he believed was “red wine spilled on the carpet” when he peered into a back window. “I figured I screwed up by showing up too late and she [had already] left,” he testified.
Kutcher later confessed that he was “freaking out” when he heard about Ellerin’s murder because his fingerprints were on her front door. “I told [the detective], ‘Let me tell you what happened!’” he said during cross examination.
Gargiulo, who was a 24-year-old air conditioning repairman when he met Ellerin, was arrested in June 2008. He pleaded not guilty to the two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.
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