A jury recommended on Friday that a Los Angeles man known as the “Hollywood Ripper” should be sentenced to death after being convicted of brutally attacking three women over seven years. Michael Gargiulo 43, was convicted in August on two counts of first-degree murder for the murders of two Southern California women and a third knife attack. Prosecutors allege Gargiulo targeted, stalked, and attacked the women he lived near. His defense lawyers argued the 43-year-old suffered from mental illness.
In 2001, Gargiulo fatally stabbed 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin in her Hollywood home hours before she was supposed to go on a date with actor Ashton Kutcher. Four years later, he similarly attacked Maria Bruno, a 32-year-old mother of four, in her apartment. Kutcher testified during the trial that he showed up about two hours late to Ellerin’s home to pick her up for the date, but left when she didn't answer the door.
Gargiulo did not complete the knife attack on Michelle Murphy in her Santa Monica apartment in 2008 after he accidentally cut himself—allowing her to escape and alert authorities. “Eleven years ago, a 26-year-old woman had the strength and courage to fight off a killer,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Garrett Dameron said in closing arguments Wednesday. “Thanks to her toughness, not only was she able to survive, but she forced her attacker to cut himself, leaving a blood trail, and leading investigators to answers they'd been seeking for 15 years.”