Nearly two years after his conviction, the “Hollywood Ripper” has finally been sentenced. It’s been a very long, very difficult case — and it’s not even over, even though his sentence is the most final one possible: the death penalty.
Michael Gargiulo, who was known alternately as the “Chiller Killer,” was first arrested way back in 2008 after he tried to kill his neighbor, 26-year-old Michelle Murphy. After she successfully fought off the attack and called the police, Gargiulo’s blood was found at the scene, and he was quickly apprehended.
It didn’t take long to connect him to other murders. He reportedly told authorities just because ten women were killed doesn’t mean he had anything to do with it — leading to the search for more victims, several of whom may not have been uncovered yet.
Ultimately he was charged with the murder of another neighbor in 2005, 32-year-old Maria Bruno, and with the 2001 murder of 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin. That crime inadvertently made Gargiulo more notorious as this particular victim had a date planned for that very night with a rising TV star named Ashton Kutcher. The That 70s Show star even testified in the murder trial in 2019, which had been delayed for years.
Ashton said he went to Ellerin’s home to pick her up to go to dinner. He testified he looked in the window after she didn’t answer and saw what he thought was spilled wine on the floor but what the prosecution argued was blood from the horrific crime scene.
After first gaining her confidence by offering to fix her flat tire, Gargiulo began showing up at her home before finally coming in that night and killing the fashion student. Police say he stabbed her 47 times, removing part of her skull and nearly decapitating her.
The jury believed the mountain of evidence against the Gargiulo. The serial killer — who also became known in the media as “The Boy Next Door Killer” due to his tendency to gain the trust of neighbors before stabbing them to death — was convicted in August 2019 on two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.
However, due to more delays — and eventually the enormous delay of the pandemic — it took months before a sentence was handed down for the grisly crimes. But on Friday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler, following the jury’s recommendation, sentenced Gargiulo to death, saying:
“Everywhere that Mr. Gargiulo went, death and destruction followed him.”
Judge Fidler also called the attacks “completely vicious and frightening.” Can’t argue with that.
Is justice being done? We can’t answer that definitively — many consider the death penalty just as barbaric as murder. Despite the sentence, California has had a moratorium on executions for years. The last was in 2006.
But it may not be California that has the final say. In addition to the killings in Hollywood, Gargiulo has also been charged with a murder in his native Glenvale, Illinois — all the way back in 1993. After his sentencing he still has to face a murder trial for that alleged crime.
What do YOU think about the death penalty for a “serial sexual-thrill killer” as Gargiulo has been classified?
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