Sunday 18 August 2019

'Hollywood Ripper' Michael Gargiulo found guilty of killing two women, including date of actor Ashton Kutcher

Michael Gargiulo, 43, also known as the Hollywood Ripper, looks on in court during a reading of his verdict in a Los Angeles courtroom. Photo by Al SEIB / POOL / AFP)AL SEIB/AFP/Getty Images
Michael Gargiulo, 43, also known as the Hollywood Ripper, looks on in court during a reading of his verdict in a Los Angeles courtroom. Photo by Al SEIB / POOL / AFP)AL SEIB/AFP/Getty Images
Actor Ashton Kutcher testifies at the murder trial of accused serial killer Michael Thomas Gargiulo in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 29, 2019. Genaro Molina/Pool via REUTERS

Alex Dobuzinskis

A jury has found a man nicknamed the "Hollywood Ripper" guilty of knifing to death two women, including a date of actor Ashton Kutcher, and attempting to murder a third victim during a seven-year span.

Michael Gargiulo, 43, sat impassively, leaning forward slightly in his chair, as the jury verdict was read.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court panel will next consider whether Gargiulo was sane at the time of the crimes, in proceedings to begin on Tuesday.

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Actor Ashton Kutcher testifies at the murder trial of accused serial killer Michael Thomas Gargiulo in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 29, 2019. Genaro Molina/Pool via REUTERS

Kutcher, the former star of TV shows Two and a Half Men and That '70s Show told the Los Angeles jury hearing the case in May he arrived at the Hollywood bungalow of one of the victims in 2001, after arranging a date with her, and found the lights on and the door locked.

Peering through a window in the home of the victim, fashion student Ashley Ellerin, the then 23-year-old Kutcher saw "what I thought was a red wine spilled on the carpet."

Kutcher left and Ellerin, 22, was found dead at her home the next morning by a roommate. Gargiulo had broken into her place and repeatedly stabbed her, prosecutors said.

READ MORE: Kutcher 'was freaking out' after woman he was to date was killed

Ellerin was one of the women Gargiulo was convicted of murdering. The jury also found him guilty of using a knife to kill his neighbor, Maria Bruno.

Bruno, who was 32 and sleeping when she was attacked, lived in the same apartment complex as Gargiulo in suburban El Monte, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office said in a statement.

The jury found Gargiulo guilty of attempting to murder a third woman, Michelle Murphy, who survived a 2008 stabbing at her home in the coastal Los Angeles suburb of Santa Monica.

At the time, Murphy and Gargiulo were neighbors.

He attacked the then 26-year-old Murphy but she fought him off. In the struggle, Gargiulo was cut and left behind DNA evidence, which police investigators used to tie him to the murders of Ellin and Bruno, prosecutors said.

Gargiulo's lawyers have argued their client suffered from a mental disorder that left him in a confusing "fugue state" when he attacked Murphy, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Gargiulo has denied committing the other slayings, the newspaper reported.

Prosecutors have said Gargiulo began his series of deadly knifings as a teenager in the Chicago area in 1993, when he killed an 18-year-old woman.

Gargiulo is expected to later be extradited to Illinois to face charges in that killing.

Reuters

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