LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Prosecutors argued Monday a convicted double-murderer dubbed the “Hollywood Ripper” deserves the death penalty after he was convicted back in August of murdering two women, one of whom was killed on the night she was set to go on a date with actor Ashton Kutcher.
On Aug. 15, a jury found 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.
His conviction followed a trial which dragged out for 3 ½ months, including four days of deliberations. About a week later, the jury determined that Gargiulo had been sane when he carried out the crimes.
As the penalty phase of the trial got underway Monday in downtown Los Angeles, Deputy District Attorney Dan Akemon told the panel Michael Gargiulo “has led a life of crime and violence that has left a swath of death, grief and destruction behind him.”
“He has earned and deserves the maximum penalty of death,” Akemon said.
But defense attorney Dale Rubin said the jury had already made the most important decision when they convicted his client for the slayings of 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin and 32-year-old Maria Bruno.
“Mr. Gargiulo is going to die in prison,” Rubin said. “The question is when? Is it going to be in God’s time or is it going to be in your time?”
Gargiulo, meanwhile, 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 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 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.
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.
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.)