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March 30, 2023
“Hollywood Ripper” Michael Gargiulo was sentenced to death in California Friday for the home-invasion murders of two women, including one who was dating Ashton Kutcher at the time of her death.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler called 45-year-old Gargiulo’s crimes “vicious and frightening” as he handed down the sentence. “Everywhere that Mr. Gargiulo went, death and destruction followed him,” Fidler said. Victims’ family members wept as Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler handed down the sentence to 45-year-old Michael Thomas Gargiulo.
Gargiulo was found guilty of the 2001 murder of Ashley Ellerin, a 22-year-old fashion design student, in her Hollywood home as she prepared to go out with Kutcher. At the trial, Kutcher said that he was late to pick up Ellerin, who did not answer her door. He looked inside to see blood stains that he thought were spilled wine. Prosecutors used him in their closing arguments, suggesting Ellerin was killed by another man who was jealous of Kutcher. Ellerin was found with 47 stab wounds.
Gargiulo was also convicted of the murder of 32-year-old Maria Bruno, a mother of four, in her home in El Monte, east of Los Angeles, in 2005. Bruno’s breasts were cut off and her implants were removed. He was then found guilty of the attempted murder in 2008 of Michelle Murphy, who fought him off in her Santa Monica apartment, forcing him to flee and leave a trail of blood that also led to his eventual arrests for the other two killings. Murphy was the key witness at the trial.
“To this day, spending the night alone creates a world of fear in me,” Murphy said in court before the sentencing. She cried as she talked about meeting the families of the two women who didn’t survive their attacks. “How is it fair that one person’s actions can destroy the lives of so many?” she said. Gargiulo is a former air conditioner and heater repairman, bouncer and aspiring actor whose nicknames from media outlets included “The Chiller Killer” and “The Hollywood Ripper” but was called “The Boy Next Door Killer” by prosecutors because he lived near the victims he stalked then attacked in their homes.
He spoke before his sentencing. He was frustrated that his lawyers prevented him from taking the stand in his defense. “I’m going to death row wrongfully and unjustfully,” said Gargiulo, who sat in court in orange jail attire and face mask and showed no visible reaction to his sentencing. “I did want to testify and my fundamental choice was blocked.” The last inmate to be put to death in California was in 2006. Governor Newsom has halted all executions for the duration of time he is in office.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: CNN