A man dubbed the Hollywood Ripper, Michael Garguilo, appeared in court in Los Angeles in a last ditch effort to avoid being sentenced to death after having been found guilty of the murder of two women.
Garguilo, 44, was found guilty at his 2019 trial of murdering 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin in 2001 and 32-year-old Maria Bruno in 2005. He was also found guilty of the 2008 attempted murder of Michelle Murphy.
At the time, the jury recommended the death penalty but on Friday a hearing was held on behalf of Garguilo with his attorney arguing that he should be spared execution.
A man dubbed the Hollywood Ripper, Michael Garguilo, has appeared in court in Los Angeles in a last ditch effort to avoid being sentenced to death
Gargiulo appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court having been found guilty of the murder of two women at his trial in 2019
Gargiulo, hardcuffed, sporting a long white beard and wearing prison overalls and a facemask, was led in to the court room by a court officer
Gargiulo was found guilty of murdering 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin (left) in 2001 and 32-year-old Maria Bruno (right) in 2005. Ellerin was actor Ashton Kutcher’s then-girlfriend and Bruno was a mother-of-three found stabbed to death at her home
Gargiulo appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday as his attorney made the case that the new LA County District Attorney, George Gascon, is opposed to the death penalty and that the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, has placed a moratorium on executions.
Garguilo’s attorney, Dale Michael Rubin, argued that his client should be spared execution because at the age of 44, if given a life sentence, he would eventually die in prison.
During the hearing Gargiulo, head shaven and sporting a lengthy white beard which protruded beneath his face mask, spoke only once when the judge asked him if he understood what was happening, to which Gargiulo replied yes.
Gargiulo will finally be sentenced by the judge at his next hearing in July 2021, nearly two years since the conclusion of his trial.
Gargiulo noted how the new LA County District Attorney, George Gascon, left, is opposed to the death penalty and California Gov. Gavin Newsom has placed a moratorium on executions
Michael Gargiulo appears in Los Angeles Superior Court after being convicted of killing actor Ashton Kutcher’s girlfriend as attorney Dale Michael Rubin pleads his case to be spared the death penalty
In this photo from Gargiulo’s trial he can be seen sporting a vastly different look from the present
Gargiulo has grown a beard since being locked up. It has grown so long it is protruding out of the bottom of his mask
At the time, prosecutors called Gargiulo ‘The Boy Next Door Killer’ because he lived near all of the victims.
He committed his first murder in 1993 when he killed Tricia Pacaccio, 18, outside of her home in Glenview, Illinois.
Gargiulo was 17 years old at the time and was a friend of Pacaccio’s brother. In fact, he lived just around the corner from the family.
After the murder, he moved to Los Angeles, where he met Ashley Ellerin.
Gargiulo lived less than a block away and, on the day they met, asked if she needed help changing a flat tire.
During his trial, prosecutors called Gargiulo ‘The Boy Next Door Killer’ because he lived near all of the victims
Slides were shown that detailed how close Gargiulo lived to his victims
He became ‘obsessed’ with Ellerin, showing up to her home announced and surveying her from a parked car across the street.
Ellerin was found stabbed to death in her home in February 2001, hours before she had plans to go out on a date with Ashton Kutcher.
The young woman was allegedly stabbed so brutally that her head was almost completely severed from her body.
Gargiulo is pictured in court during his August 2019 murder trial
At the time, Kutcher was a rising star of the Fox series That ’70s Show but not yet the household name he is today.
Kutcher testified that the pair last spoke at 8.24pm when he told Ellerin he was running late and she told him she had just gotten out of the shower.
When he arrived at her Hollywood home very late, he said he got no answer when he knocked on the door.
Kutcher testified that he looked inside and saw what he thought were wine stains. He said he left thinking she had gone out without him in frustration.
‘I remember the next day, after I heard about what happened, I went to the detectives and said, ‘My fingerprints are on the door,” Kutcher said.
‘I was freaking out.’
Kutcher testified at Gargiulo’s trial because Ellerin was found dead hours before she and Kutcher had a date planned. Pictured: Kutcher testifies in May 2019
When Ellerin didn’t answer the door, Kutcher assumed she had stood him up and left. Pictured: Ellerin, center, with friends in 2001
Photos of the victims of Michael Gargiulo (from left to right): Tricia Pacaccio, Ashley Ellerin, Maria Bruno and Michelle Murphy. Gargiulo has not yet been tried for Paccacio’s murder
Gargiulo moved, yet again, this time to a gated apartment complex in El Monte – 16 miles away – where he murdered his neighbor, Maria Bruno, in December 2005.
Then, in 2008, he attempted to murder Michelle Murphy, then 26, at her home in Santa Monica by stabbing her 17 times.
Murphy was a fitness buff and fought off her attacker, which caused him to cut himself and leave a trail of blood.
This set off the chain of events that led to the arrest and charges against Gargiulo.
The physical evidence against him was so overwhelming that defense attorneys conceded that it was him.
In 2008, Gargiulo attempted to murder Michelle Murphy, then 26, at her home in Santa Monica. Pictured: Murphy’s defensive wounds on her hands from fighting off her attacker
Murphy was a fitness buff and fought off her attacker, which caused him to cut himself and leave a trail of blood. Pictured: Blood in Murphy’s bathroom where she tried to clean herself up after the attack
The trial of blood set off the chain of events that led to the arrest and charges against Gargiulo. Pictured: Murphy’s blood when she fell down in the hall and her bloody hand prints.
They offered, as their only defense, that Gargiulo suffers from split personalities and did not know he was in Murphy’s apartment. They noted that he said ‘sorry’ as he fled.
Prosecutors praised Murphy during their closing arguments, saying her resistance against Gargiulo led to his arrest in all of the other cases as they grew increasingly cold.
‘Michelle Murphy, because of her strength and courage, allowed investigators to work backwards,’ the prosecutor said.
‘This case begins and ends with Michelle Murphy.’
Gargiulo is still awaiting trial in Illinois for the 1993 killing of Tricia Pacaccio when he was 17 and friends with her younger brother
Murphy testified during the trial’s penalty phase that she lived in fear for years after the attack.
The killer has since been linked to the murder of a third woman. He is currently awaiting trial in Illinois for the 1993 killing of Tricia Pacaccio.
Prosecutors were allowed to present evidence of the case in his California trial to help establish a pattern between the killings.
Pacaccio’s father found her fatally stabbed on their family’s doorstep with her house key still in hand.
Gargiulo was a close friend of Pacaccio’s brother and detectives had long suspected him in the killing.
But they could never put together enough evidence to charge him with Pacaccio’s murder – until the attack on Murphy 15 years later.
Her father discovered her body on the back doorstep the next day.
‘It’s been 26 years,’ he mother, Diane, said on the stand. ‘Every single day I think about her. Her room is the same. The bedspread is the same, drapes are the same. And my grandkids go in there to play, and that’s how I introduce them to Tricia.’