LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Following a trial that lasted 3 ½ months, the man known as the “Hollywood Ripper” was found guilty Thursday morning of murdering two women in the Los Angeles area, one of whom was killed on the night she was set to go on a date with actor Ashton Kutcher.
Following four days of deliberations, a downtown L.A. jury found 43-year-old Michael Gargiulo, an air conditioning repairman, guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for the 2001 and 2005 killings of two young women. Gargiulo was also convicted of attempted murder for a 2008 stabbing of a Santa Monica woman who was able to escape and survived.
Gargiulo was a neighbor of each victim at the time of the attacks.
He showed no visible reaction when the verdicts were read.
Jurors found true special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and multiple murder, opening Gargiulo to a possible death sentence. The jury could give him the death penalty during the sentencing phase of the trial.
Gargiulo is also facing separate charges out of Illinois in the murder of a Chicago-area teenager in 1993.
In February 2001, Garguilo murdered 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin in her Hollywood Hills home. She had been stabbed 47 times.
Kutcher arrived to pick her up for a date following the murder, but left when she did not answer the door. He testified in Gargiulo’s trial.
In 2005, Gargiulo is accused of killing a young mother, 32-year-old Maria Bruno, who lived in the same El Monte apartment complex as him. Her breasts had been cut off.
In 2008, Gargiulo moved to Santa Monica, where prosecutors say he tried to stab another woman, 26-year-old Michelle Murphy, to death. Murphy, also a neighbor of Gargiulo, escaped and survived.
Gargiulo’s trial began May 2. Kutcher testified in the trial
In 1993, 17-year-old Tricia Pacaccio was stabbed to death on the front porch of her suburban Chicago home. Pacaccio lived just down the street from Gargiulo, who was a friend of her brother’s.
According to CBS News, Pacaccio’s murder was unsolved until 2011, when two witnesses came forward after watching a “48 Hours Mystery” report on the case. Within a few weeks, Gargiulo was indicted.
The L.A. trial will move into a second phase next week, when jurors will be asked to determine if Gargiulo was sane at the time of the crimes. If jurors find he was sane, the trial will then move to a penalty phase, in which they will recommend either a death sentence or life in prison without parole.
Once the L.A. trial is over, Gargiulo will be sent back to Illinois to face murder charges in Pacaccio’s death.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)