Michael Gargiulo, 43, was convicted yesterday on two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in a series of knife attacks in Los Angeles that lasted from 2001 to 2008.
Jurors will now decide whether Gargiulo was sane when he killed Ashley Ellerin, 22, and Maria Bruno, 33, and tried to murder Michelle Murphy, 26. If he’s found sane, Gargiulo—who’s also been dubbed “the boy next door killer”—could be sentenced to death, although Governor Gavin Newsom recently suspended the death penalty.
When his trial in Los Angeles ends, Gargiulo will be transferred to Chicago, where prosecutors say he murdered 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio in 1993 on her front doorstep after she spent the night celebrating her high school graduation. Investigators say his DNA was found under Pacaccio’s fingernails. By the time that evidence was discovered, however, Gargiulo had moved to L.A., where he met Ellerin.
In court, witnesses said Gargiulo stalked Ellerin after offering to fix a flat tire for her, showing up at her apartment unannounced on several occasions, and parking in front of her home day at night. Ellerin had been dating actor Ashton Kutcher at the time, who testified to help prosecutors establish a timeline for the murder.
Kutcher said he went to pick up Ellerin for a date the night she was killed in 2001.
“I knocked on the door. There was no answer. Knocked again. And once again, no answer,” he recalled. “At this point I pretty well assumed she had left for the night, and that I was late, and she was upset.”
He peeked in her window before taking off, Kutcher testified, and saw what looked like a wine stain on the floor, but he’d been to party there the week before and people had been drinking, so the sight didn’t set off any alarm bells for the actor.
Gargiulo stabbed Ellerin 47 times, according to the police.
He later moved into the same El Monte apartment complex as Bruno, where he attacked her in her sleep and “quite literally butchered her,” prosecutors said.
In 2008 he attacked Murphy while she slept in her Santa Monica apartment, prosecutors said, but she was able to grab the blade of his knife and kick him off the bed. As he ran away, he said, “I’m sorry,” Murphy testified.
Gargiulo’s lawyer said he was in “a fugue state” during the attacks and remembers nothing.
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