A jury recommends the death penalty for Michael Gargiulo, also known as the “Hollywood Ripper,” for the murders of two women and the attempted murder of a third, CNN reports.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced the panel, composed of six men and six women, spent several hours deliberating Gargiulo’s sentencing before issuing their recommendation on Friday. Gargiulo’s trial took place this summer and included testimony from Ashton Kutcher, who was set to go on a date with Ashley Ellerin, one of Gargiulo’s victims, the night of her murder.
In August, Gargiulo was found guilty of two first-degree murders and one count of “willful, deliberate, and premeditated attempted murder and attempted escape,” according to the DA’s office. Gargiulo will be sentenced on February 28, 2020.
Gargiulo’s crimes took place over a seven-year period. In February 2001, Gargiulo killed 22-year-old Ellerin, breaking into her Hollywood Hills home and fatally stabbing her 47 times.
On the night of her death, Ellerin was planning on attending a Grammy Awards after-party with Kutcher. Kutcher testified at Gargiulo’s trial, explaining how he went to Ellerin’s home to pick her up around 10 p.m. after he couldn’t get ahold of her via phone. When he arrived at the house, Kutcher noticed an open security gate and recalled seeing the lights on, though there was no answer when he knocked at the door. Looking through the front window, he also noticed a stain he thought to be spilled wine on the carpet.
Ellerin’s roommate found her the next morning. Kutcher learned of her death the next day and spoke with police shortly after, though he was never considered a suspect, per CNN. This was the first time Kutcher spoke publicly about Ellerin’s murder.
Gargiulo was also convicted for the murder of his 32-year-old neighbor Maria Bruno in December 2005. Bruno was asleep when Gargiulo broke into her apartment to kill and mutilate her. Both lived in an apartment complex in El Monte, prosecutors said.
In 2008, Gargiulo attacked his 26-year-old neighbor Michelle Murphy in her Santa Monica home. Gargiulo stabbed Murphy, but she fought him off. He was cut in the struggle, and DNA evidence from the attack later linked him to all three crimes.
Gargiulo is also facing charges in the Chicago area for the 1993 murder of 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio. He was 17 at the time, according to CNN, and she is believed to be his first victim. Los Angeles County prosecutors used details about Pacaccio’s murder as supporting evidence in his trial.