‘Hollywood Ripper’ Michael Gargiulo sentenced to death for murders

Michael Gargiulo, with a cleanly shaved bald head, is seen in a close-up profile in this court photo

A Los Angeles judge says “death and destruction followed” Michael Gargiulo

A convicted murderer nicknamed the “Hollywood Ripper” has been sentenced to death for the killings of two women in the 2000s.

Relatives of his victims wept as a judge gave Michael Gargiulo the sentence in Los Angeles on Friday.

Ashley Ellerin, 22, and Maria Bruno, 32, were both stabbed to death in their California homes.

Gargiulo was caught after another potential victim, Michelle Murphy, then 26, managed to fight him off.

He fled the scene, but left a some blood behind – enabling police to track him down.

At Friday’s sentencing, Ms Murphy broke down, telling the court how “spending the night alone creates a world of fear in me” more than a decade later.

Gargiulo was convicted of two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in 2019, but continues to insist he is innocent.

He is now expected to stand trial in Illinois, where he faces a separate murder charge over the killing of an 18-year-old woman in 1993.

The California murders attracted global attention because one of the victims, Ellerin, was about to go on a date with American actor Ashton Kutcher on the night she was killed in February 2001.

Actor Ashton Kutcher testifies at the murder trial of accused serial killer Michael Thomas Gargiulo in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 29, 2019.

Kutcher testified about the night Ms Ellerin was killed

Testifying at the trial, he said he had knocked on the door of Ellerin’s Hollywood home. When she did not answer, Kutcher looked in her window and saw what he thought were wine stains on the floor, he said.

A roommate found Ellerin dead the next day with 47 stab wounds.

During the trial Kutcher told the court he was “freaking out” when he learned that Ellerin had been killed.

Gargiulo killed Bruno, a mother of four, in December 2005. She was a neighbour of Gargiulo, who “quite literally butchered” her with a knife while she slept, prosecutors said.

Three years later, Ms Murphy woke up in her Santa Monica flat with Gargiulo on top of her, stabbing her with a knife, but managed to fight him off.

She was a key witness in the trial.

As he announced the sentence, Judge Larry Paul Fidler said: “In this case, everywhere that Mr Gargiulo went, death and destruction followed.”

However, it could be a while before Gargiulo is put to death. The last execution in California was in 2006 and the practice has been banned since 2019 under Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.

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