LOS ANGELES - Michael Gargiulo, the so-called "Hollywood Ripper" and "The Boy Next Door Killer," has been sentenced to death for killing and mutilating two Southern California women, including one who died hours before she was set to go out with actor Ashton Kutcher.
In court Friday, Gargiulo again denied involvement in the attacks. "I'm innocent," he said. "I've been framed by tunnel-vision
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler chose between a death sentence and life in prison without the possibility of parole for Gargiulo, 45, who was convicted in August 2019 of the home-invasion murders of two women and the attempted murder of a third.
Now convicted serial killer Michael Gargiulo, known as the "Hollywood Ripper," listens as Ashton Kutcher testifies during Gargiulo’s trial of at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on May 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by
A jury recommended his execution in October 2019, but the pandemic and procedural issues forced several delays in his sentencing.
He’s also facing a future trial for a 1997 killing in his Illinois hometown. Prosecutors in his California trial were allowed to present extensive evidence from that case as they sought to establish a pattern and present Gargiulo as a serial killer.
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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 his victims.
He was found guilty of the 2001 murder of Ashley Ellerin 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. He testified that he briefly feared he would be a suspect in the case as one of the last to communicate with Ellerin.
Prosecutors used him in their closing arguments, suggesting Ellerin was killed by another man who was jealous of Kutcher.
A prosecution slide of victims is displayed in the courtroom during closing statements in the capital murder trial of Michael Gargiulo, in Los Angeles Superior Court, August 6, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP via Getty I
Gargiulo was also convicted of killing Maria Bruno in her home in El Monte in 2005, and 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 a key witness at the trial.
"In this case, everywhere that Mr. Gargiulo went, death and destruction followed," Judge Fidler said.
Despite the death sentence, Gargiulo is unlikely to be put to death anytime soon. California has not executed anyone since 2006 and Gov. Gavin Newsom has halted executions for as long as he is in office. But courts have been proceeding on the assumption that executions may one day resume.
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