WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Actor Ashton Kutcher is expected to testify at the trial of alleged serial killer Michael Gargiulo, a.k.a. the ‘Hollywood Ripper.’
- Gargiulo, 43, is charged with one count of attempted murder and two counts of murder, which involves the 2001 killing of Kutcher’s then-girlfriend, Ashley Ellerin.
- Gargiulo pleaded not guilty and claims that he had been ‘wrongfully charged’ and that he is ‘100 percent innocent.’
The trial of alleged serial killer Michael Gargiulo, a.k.a. the “Hollywood Ripper,” has begun, and actor Ashton Kutcher is expected to provide his testimony.
The actor is just one of almost 250 prospective witnesses in the case against 43-year-old Gargiulo, according to the Los Angeles Times. Gargiulo’s supposed cross-country crime spree from 1993 to 2008 involved the murder of 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin, who was a fashion student and model – and was also Kutcher’s girlfriend at the time.
On the night of Feb. 21, 2001, Kutcher dropped by Ellerin’s house in Hollywood Hills to pick her up for the Grammy Awards afterparty. When she did not answer the door, he peered through the back window. He noticed what he assumed was red wine spilled on her carpet, and then he left. A friend found Ellerin’s body the next day.
According to a 2010 LA Weekly report, Kutcher’s testimony would help determine the time Ellerin was killed.
CBS News’ “48 Hours” reported that Gargiulo’s suspected first killing was back in 1993. The victim was 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio, who lived in the suburban neighborhood of Glenview, just outside Chicago. Her father found her body, which had multiple stab wounds, on the patio. After the DNA on her fingernails was tested only 10 years later, her death was linked to Gargiulo.
In 2005, the AP reported on another of his alleged victims, 32-year-old Maria Bruno, who was killed in her apartment in El Monte, California. In 2008, the Washington Post reported that Gargiulo allegedly attacked 27-year-old Michelle Murphy of Santa Monica, who managed to fight him off and survive. Both women were attacked during the night while sleeping.
Gargiulo apparently lived next to each of his alleged victims and worked as an air conditioning repairman. This led a prosecutor to call him “the boy next door killer” during the opening statements in the Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday.
Gargiulo was charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, to which he pleaded not guilty. He is also facing a separate charge for the 1993 killing of Pacaccio.
Gargiulo claimed in a 2011 statement to “48 Hours” that he had been “wrongfully charged” and that he is “100 percent innocent.”