Hollywood's 'Boy Next Door Killer' Michael Gargiulo to get death penalty

The 43-year-old was found guilty of murdering 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin on the night she had dinner plans with actor Ashton Kutcher in 2001.

Michael Gargiulo
Michael Gargiulo Reuters

Known as the 'Hollywood ripper' or 'the Boy Next Door Killer', Michael Gargiulo was recommended the death penalty on Friday by the Los Angeles Jury for the murders of two women and attempting to murder a woman in Southern California.

In August, Micheal Gargiulo, 43 was found guilty of murdering 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin on the night she had dinner plans with actor Ashton Kutcher in 2001.

He was also convicted of the murder of 32-year-old Maria Bruno who was sleeping when she was attacked with a knife in 2005 in her El Monte house in LA. He is also the prime suspect for a murder in 2007 in Illinois for which he is still awaiting trial, reported the AP.

Prosecutors who called Gargiulo 'the boy next door killer' termed him after it was found that he lived near all the victims in the southern California area and had become acquainted with the victims before the attacks.

The murder of Ashley Ellerin caught media attention as it was linked with the then-upcoming 'That '70s Show' star Ashton Kutcher who was then 23-years-old.

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher
Ashton Kutcher. Reuters

Kutcher who testified in court in May had said that he appeared hours late to Ellerin's house and had left after she didn't answer the door. He also stated he saw what it appeared to be 'wine stains' before he left.

Ellerin was found dead by her roommate the next morning. Prosecutors claimed Gargiulo had broken into her place and repeatedly stabbed her.

Describing how he felt the next day when he got to know about the case and becoming a suspect, he said he approached the detectives and stated that his fingerprints were on the door.

"I remember the next day after I heard about what happened, I went to the detectives and said, 'My fingerprints are on the door,'" he was quoted as saying in his testimony.

It was after Michelle Murphy survived the attack by Gargiulo that led to a major breakthrough in the case. Murphy said that she was attacked in her bed. During the fight, Gargiulo cut himself and left blood stains that helped connect evidence collected from other cases including previous two murders in LA and the Illinois killing case.

Hollywood ripper
A prosecution slide is shown in court in the murder trial of Michael Gargiulo on August 6, 2019. Reuters

Murphy stated that she lived in constant fear for years after the incident. "In the days, weeks and months after it happened, I barely even slept, I feared the nighttime and going to bed. I still slept with the lights on for a long time," she said in court.

Others including Ellerin's mother and other victim's family members also testified.

However, Gargiulo's defence attorney Daniel Nardoni condemned the decision as to the defence team including a psychologist who had stated that Gargiulo suffers from a dissociative personality disorder.

"You don't kill people that are mentally ill," Nardoni was quoted as saying. "It's just a matter of humanity. There's a different kind of punishment for the mentally ill. It's called life without parole."

The defence had argued stating that Ellerin was killed by another man who was jealous as she was about to go on a date with the actor. Bruno's murder was also stated to have been committed by another culprit with the defence agreeing that while he attacked Murphy, he was in a "fugue state" due to his mental disorder and was not aware of his actions or where he was at the time.

Michael Gargiulo
Michael Gargiulo or "Hollywood Ripper" YouTube/ CBS

Gargiulo's 16-year-old son also testifies stating that his father should be excepted from the death penalty and expressed that he needed his parent.

Superior Court Judge Larry P Fidler announced that Gargiulo will be required to appear for formal sentencing on February 28 and he will consider motions for a new trial or reduced sentence according to reports.