Following three days of deliberations by a Los Angeles jury, the man who was dubbed the "Hollywood Ripper" for the brutal slayings of two women, including one who was killed while she was preparing to go out on a date with actor Ashton Kutcher, has been found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder.
Michael Gargiulo, 43, could face the death penalty if jurors determine in a second phase of trial that he was sane at the time of the killings.
Gargiulo was accused of perpetrating the Feb. 22 2001 killing of 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin at her Hollywood home as well as the Dec. 1, 2005 murder of 32-year-old Maria Bruno in her El Monte Apartment. He was also found guilty on an attempted murder charge due to a April 2008 attack on 26-year-old Michelle Murphy, who survived after being stabbed eight times in her Santa Monica apartment. Because of the violent nature of the attacks, Gargiulo was dubbed the "Hollywood Ripper."
The trial now moves to a second phase where jurors will have to determine whether Gargiulo was sane at the time of the stabbings. If jurors believe he was sane at the time, the trial will move on to the penalty phase where Gargiulo could face the death penalty.
Gargiulo is also awaiting trial for a murder charge in Illinois where he is accused of the Aug. 14, 1993 murder of 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio, the sister of one of his friends.
Defense attorneys for Gargiulo tried to convince jurors other men could be responsible for the deadly attacks, pointing to the lack of DNA evidence found at the scenes. Gargiulo has denied responsibility for the attacks.
Prosecutors sought to portray Gargiulo as a "stone-cold serial killer" who "preys on women" that lived near him. They said Gargiulo would lay in wait for the perfect opportunity to attack his victims at night in or near their homes in "totally planned killings."
At one point, the jury heard testimony from actor Ashton Kutcher, who had been scheduled to go out on a date with Ellerin. The actor told jurors he had showed up to Ellerin's home the night she'd been murdered to pick her up. He said he knocked on her door and peering through a window, where he could see what he believed was spilled red wine.
Kutcher said he learned what happened to Ellerin the next day and freaked out after speaking with police because he knew his fingerprints would be at the scene.
Gargiulo was first arrested in June 2008 by Santa Monica police in connection with the attack on Murphy. Gargiulo was then charged with the killings of Ellerin and Bruno.