A judge sentenced Friday a man who prosecutors called “The Boy Next Door Killer”, for his home invasion murders of two women, and attempted murder of another for crimes he called “vicious” and “fearful”.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler sentenced Michael Thomas Gargiulo, 45, to a life sentence. Victims’ families wept.
Fidler stated at the all-day hearing, “Everywhere Mr. Gargiulo went death and destruction followed him.”
Gargiulo’s trial received extra attention because one of his victims was set to go on a date in Hollywood with Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher testified at Gargiulo’s trial.
Fast two years had passed since Gargiulo was convicted and recommended that Gargiulo be executed.
Gargiulo was found guilty in 2001 of the murder of Ashley Ellerin (22-year-old fashion designer student) in her Hollywood home, as she prepared for a night out with Kutcher. Kutcher claimed that he was late picking up Ellerin and didn’t answer her door at the trial.
He noticed bloodstains on his body, which he believed were wine spilled. He was used by the prosecution in closing arguments. They suggested that Ellerin was murdered by another man jealous about Kutcher.
Ellerin was found with 47 stabbing wounds.
Michael Ellerin, her father, had visited his daughter in Northern California hours prior to her death. He was also one of many victims’ relatives who spoke at their hearing about their suffering while they waited for years for justice.
After learning that Ashley was murdered, he said he felt tempted to imitate Cynthia’s “mournful cry and primal weeping.”
He said, “It marked a beginning of an altered and diminished, heartbreakingly difficult life.”
Gargiulo was also convicted in 2005 of the murder in El Monte of Maria Bruno, 32, a mother-of-four. Bruno had her breasts cut and had her implants removed.
He was also found guilty of attempted murder of Michelle Murphy in 2008. Murphy fought him in her Santa Monica apartment and forced him to flee. This led to a trail that eventually led to his arrests for the two other killings. Murphy was the main witness in the trial.
Murphy stated in court prior to the sentencing, “To this day spending the night alone creates fear in me.”
She wept as she spoke of meeting the families who lost their loved ones to the attacks.
She said, “How fair is it that one person can ruin the lives of so many?”
Gargiulo was a former heater and air conditioner repairman, bouncer, and aspiring actor. His nicknames in media outlets were “The Chiller Killer”, “The Hollywood Ripper,” but he was actually called “The Boy Next Door Killer” because he lived close to the victims he stalked and attacked at their homes.
Before his sentencing, he spoke out angrily complaining about how his lawyers had prevented him from speaking in his defense.
Gargiulo said, “I’m going on death row wrongfully & unjustly.” He sat in court wearing orange jail clothes and a face mask and did not react to the sentencing. “I wanted to testify, but my fundamental choice was blocked.”
It is unlikely that he will be executed anytime soon. Since 2006, California has not executed anyone. Gavin Newsom has stopped executions as long as he’s in office. However, courts continue to assume that executions will one day resume.
Gargiulo is expected to be extradited from California to face charges of the 1993 murder of Tricia Pacaccio, his Illinois hometown. In California, Gargiulo’s trial was open to the public. They were allowed to present numerous evidence in that case to establish a pattern. Gargiulo was then labelled a serial killer.