Michael Gargiulo, 43, faces trial for the murder of two women, including actor Ashton Kutcher’s then-girlfriend, 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin. Gargiulo’s defense attorneys have accused Ellerin of having had “consensual sex” with another man shortly before she was found brutally stabbed to death in her apartment, per The Daily Mail. The accusation was made on the opening day of Gargiulo’s trial in Los Angeles, California, on May 2.
In addition to standing accused of killing Ellerin in her apartment in February of 2001, Gargiulo — frequently referred to as the “Hollywood Ripper” — is also facing charges for the murder of mother-of-four Maria Bruno. Bruno, 32, was murdered in her apartment in 2005, having resided in Monterey Park, L.A. However, the accused is believed to have killed up to 10 women between the years of 1993 and 2008, when he was caught after allegedly attempting to stab Michelle Murphy to death. He faces an attempted murder charge for this latter crime.
Gargiulo’s defense attorney, Dan Nardoni, attempted to discredit the prosecutors during his opening statements, claiming that other men had better motive to kill Ellerin. Nardoni reportedly said that the apartment manager he claimed that Ellerin had sex with — on the night she was murdered — was one such suspect. Nardoni added that said apartment manager, Mark Durban, admitted to having sexual relations with the 22-year-old victim that same night.
'I left the b**** for dead.' Trial for 'Hollywood Ripper' accused of murdering Ashton Kutcher's ex and 10 other women begins https://t.co/3eDy0M9xNy
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) May 2, 2019
Nardoni further detailed his defense by stating that there was no evidence of forced entry into Ellerin’s apartment, meaning that she either knew her killer and let them in — or that the killer had a key. Nardoni added that without DNA evidence from Gargiulo, it can’t be proven that he killed Ellerin.
“There are no fingerprints identifiable to Mr. Gargiulo. From the body of Ashley Ellerin, there is no DNA identifiable to Mr. Gargiulo.”
In addition to not having left DNA evidence at the crime scene in 2001, Nardoni claims that there was no DNA evidence left after the murder of Maria Bruno in 2005, either.
“There is no DNA from the body of Maria Bruno that is identifiable with Michael Gargiulo. There is no DNA from the window (where the killer entered the apartment), there are no fingerprints from the window.”
The last point Nardoni made in his attempt to discredit the prosecution’s argument was that after Gargiulo was arrested in 2008 — following the attempted murder of Michelle Murphy — he was unknowingly put in a cell with two undercover agents. These agents allegedly sought to get Gargiulo to confess to the murders. During the 42-hour “interrogation,” Gargiulo reportedly did not confess.
The prosecution holds that Gargiulo targeted and stalked each of his victims, and was a neighbor to the women he is accused of killing.
For both counts of murder, Gargiulo is facing the death penalty, although he is pleading innocent to both charges.