On February 21, 2001, 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin was stabbed 47 times and killed. The L.A. Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising student was allegedly getting ready for a date with Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher, when suspect Michael Gargiulo — known as the "Hollywood Ripper" — entered her Hollywood home and murdered her. While Kutcher was not the one to find her body (she was found by her roommate the next morning, according to People), he did arrive on her doorstep and ring the bell shortly after prosecutors believe the crime had been committed. Gargiulo was charged for Ellerin's murder in 2008, and on Wednesday, Kutcher testified in court.
Gargiulo is accused of attacking at least four women — Maria Bruno, Michelle Murphy, Tricia Pacaccio, and Ellerin — and has pled not guilty. Murphy is the only survivor of Gargiulo's alleged attacks, and was the first witness in the trial.
Kutcher's testimony is the actor's first time speaking publicly about the murder, and helped establish a timeline for the case. According to prosecutors and documented by People, Kutcher and Ellerin spoke on the phone at 8:24 p.m. on February 21 to confirm their plans, but Ellerin did not answer her phone at 10:15 p.m, nor did she come to the door when Kutcher arrived at 10:45 p.m, when he called again and did not receive an answer.
After peering through the window, Kutcher says he "didn’t see anything and just assumed she had gone out with her friend and bailed," according to People. "I assumed she had left for the night and I was late and she was upset."
However, there were causes for concern. Red stains on the floor that Kutcher originally wrote off as a red wine spill from a party she threw a few days earlier are now believed to be blood, aiding the conclusion that Ellerin had already been murdered by the time of Kutcher's arrival. The next day, Kutcher learned of her alleged murder.
“My fingerprints are on this door and I was freaking out,” he said in the testimony. “I told [a police officer], ‘Let me tell you what happened.’"
As for Gargiulo, he apparently first met Ellerin outside her home in fall 2000. He was a 24-year-old air conditioning repairman and former bouncer, and asked if she needed help with a flat tire. He lived less than a block away from Ellerin and would reportedly show up to her house uninvited or park outside during strange hours. Because of the small window between Ellerin and Kutcher's last conversation and Kutcher's arrival, prosecutors believe Gargiulo was watching Ellein.
If convicted, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Kutcher has yet to speak publicly about his testimony.