The judge and jury presiding over the trial of the so-called ‘Hollywood Ripper’ visited several sights Thursday where Michael Gargiulo is alleged to have murdered two young women and attempted to kill another.
That included a viewing of the home of Ashton Kutcher’s slain girlfriend Ashley Ellerin.
Late last month movie star Kutcher took to the stand to provide the jury with a detailed account of what happened the night before Ellerin’s lifeless body was found covered in blood, admitting that he arrived at the home two hours late to pick her up for a date.
After hearing no sign of Ellerin inside, he peered through the window to see a red stain – which he thought was spilled wine – on the carpet, presumed she was no longer home and then left.
More than 18-years later, the jury were provided with an up-close look at the crime scene as two vans descended on the Pinehurst Road home.
The judge (Larry Fidler pictured) and jury presiding over the trial of the so-called ‘Hollywood Ripper’ visited several sights where Michael Gargiulo is alleged to have viciously murdered three young women and attempted to kill another
Two vans filled with jurors descended on the Pinehurst Road home on Thursday afternoon for an up-close look at several crime scenes
Jury members were not permitted to enter the premises but spent several minutes exploring their exteriors
Michael Gargiulo is facing two counts of murder and one of attempted murderin California, with an additional murder count raised in Illinois
The group’s grisly day out included a guided tour of the property’s exterior, where police detectives Tom Small and Mark Lillienfeld pointed out the spot in which Ellerin, 23, was found lying on the floor outside of her bathroom, having suffered a staggering 47 stab wounds.
They were also taken to the El Monte apartment complex, where Maria Bruno was stabbed to death in 2005 and taken to the Santa Monica apartment complex of Michelle Murphy, the sole survivor of Gargiulo’s believed attacks, where she narrowly escaped a gruesome death in 2008.
All of victims lived in close proximity to where Gargiulo at the time, earning the defendant the nickname the ‘boy next door killer’.
Ellerin lived just 400 feet from Gargiulo’s Orchid Avenue residence when she was killed. Murphy lived in a building across an alley from the defendant, and Bruno lived in the same apartment complex.
Gargiulo’s first alleged victim, 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio, lived just 550 feet away from him in Glenview, Illinois when she too was butchered to death with a knife.
The home of Ashley Ellerin, Ashton Kutcher’s former girlfriend, was one of the group’s stops
One of Gargiulo’s alleged victims is Ashley Ellerin who was fatally stabbed aged 22 in her Hollywood home in 2001. She was meant to go on a date with Ashton Kutcher at the time of her death
Gargiulo is believed to have killed up to 10 women, including Maria Bruno, 32,(right) in 2005 and 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio in 1993(left)
Gargiulo is believed to have killed in excess of 10 women, though additional charges have not yet been brought against him.
Pleading not guilty to three counts of murder and one count of attempted homicide, Gargiulo was given permission to skip the outing.
Juror visits to the scenes of crimes are considered rare in criminal cases, but detective Tom Small told the LA Times he believes it ‘gives [jurors] perspective’.
Prosecutors say the ‘Hollywood Ripper’ began attacking young girls in the Chicago area in 1993, beginning with Pacaccio, before he set his sights further west.
Pictured: The Santa Monica apartment of Michelle Murphy (left), the sole survivor of Gargiulo’s believed attacks, who narrowly escaped a gruesome death in 2008. Gargiulo lived in a building across an alleyway (shown right)
Judge Larry Fidler is seen next to defense attorney Daniel Nardoni as jury members visit an evidence site located at 1759 Orchard Avenue
Pleading not guilty to three counts of murder and one count of attempted homicide, Gargiulo was given permission to skip the outing
Speaking in a packed courtroom on May 29, Ashton Kutcher revealed to the court that he ‘screwed up’ the night before Ellerin was found dead on February 21, 2001.
Kutcher, 41 – sporting a mustache and dressed in a blue suit and shirt with dark tie – admitted that the next day, after hearing about the brutal murder of 22-year-old Ellerin, he ‘freaked out’ because his fingerprints were on the front doorknob at her apartment and he was afraid he’d be a suspect in the killing.
As an expressionless looked on, Kutcher recounted how in 2001 he had become an ‘acquaintance’ of Ellerin, a model and student at the Los Angeles Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.
Gargiulo moved to Los Angeles in 2001 and targeted 22 year-old Ashley Ellerin, a model and student who was living in Hollywood and dating TV star Ashton Kutcher. He ‘injected himself’ into Ashley’s life, changing a tire for her and fixing her furnace, said Akemon. ‘He gatecrashed a party at her home and fixated on her. Somehow he got a copy of a key to her apartment and let himself in…then ran away’
Defense attorneys Daniel Nardoni (right) and Dale Michael Rubin were seen discussing potential points of evidence on Thursday afternoon outside Murphy’s apartment
He first met Ellerin at a birthday party in December 2000 and, because he was dating someone else at the time, introduced her to a friend of his.
Then, in early February, he went to a housewarming party at Ellerin’s Hollywood home behind the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
Since Kutcher had recently broken up with his then girlfriend, he became closer friends with Ellerin and the two arranged to go out on a date on February 21, 2001 – the night of the Grammy Awards.
He called her between 3pm and 4pm that day and ‘we made plans to go out that night for dinner and drinks’ at 8 o’clock.
He called her again at 7.30pm to say he would be late because he was stopping by his friend Christie Swanson’s house to watch the Grammy Awards on TV.
Ellerin called him at 8.24pm that night, told him she had just gotten out of the shower and was dry blowing her hair.
‘I told her I would be a little late and she said ”OK, see you later.”’
Kutcher told the court that after losing track of time, he tried to call Ellerin back to tell her he was running late.
‘But there was no answer,’ he said.
Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Dan Akemon, left, and detective Tom Small review the view the scene of Bruno’s brutal murder in 2005, at the El Monte apartment complex
Judge Larry Fidler enters the apartment block of Murphy with Sheriffs in-tow
This map shows the floorplan of Ellerin’s Hollywood Hills bungalow where she was murdered. It depicts where her body was found stabbed to death
Ashton Kutcher took the stand Wednesday to testify in the Hollywood Ripper trial accused of stabbing his friend Ashley Ellerin 47 times in 2001
Gargiulo was roaming free until 2008 when he allegedly attacked Michelle Murphy, who fought him off and survived after she was stabbed 17 times
Prosecutors Gargiulo ‘the boy next door killer’ and described his alleged crimes as ‘the methodical and systematic slaughter of women
He went home to walk his dogs then called Ellerin again to say he was on his way.
‘Again, no answer,’ he told Judge Larry Fidler at LA Superior Court.
Kutcher drove the five blocks from his home to Ashley’s, arriving between 10.30pm and 10.45pm and found her red BMW convertible parked outside and noticed ‘all the lights were on.’
‘I knocked on the door, no answer. I knocked again, no answer. I looked through the window on the front door and didn’t see anything. I tried the front door knob and it was locked.’
He looked through a side window ‘because I thought it was odd that the lights were on. It looks like it was a bit of a mess, but I didn’t think anything of that because she had just moved in.
‘Then I saw what I thought was red wine spilled on the carpet. I wasn’t alarmed because I just been at the house warming party at her house and that was kind of a college party.’
After seeing nobody inside and getting no answer to his door knocks, Kutcher left. He said he assumed Ellerin had gone out with a friend because she was upset about him being so late.
Kutcher appeared calm as he took the stand and recounted the night nearly a two decades ago
A map showing the distance of 400ft between Gargiulo and Ellerin is presented as evidence during opening statements at his murder trial
This map shows that Gargiulo and victim Pacaccio lived only 550ft away from one another in 1993 when she was murdered
‘I figured I had screwed up – I had showed up too late,’ he told the jury.
Under cross examination from defense attorney Dan Nardoni, Kutcher said he did not recall seeing Gargiulo among the 30-40 people at Ashley’s housewarming party two weeks before her murder.
He added that Ellerin had not told him that she was having ‘any problems or issues’ with any other people.
Kutcher ended his almost one hour of testimony telling the court that when he heard the next day about Ellerin’s murder, he went to the police to tell them he had been outside her home the night of her killing.
‘I went to her door, my fingerprints were on the door,’ he said. ‘I was freaking out.’
Ellerin’s roommate found her horribly mutilated body in the apartment the next day.
The stain Kutcher had thought was red wine was actually blood from the 47 gaping wounds – some up to six inches deep – inflicted on her neck, chest, stomach and back by a knife-wielding intruder.
Earlier this month, Gargiulo’s defense attorney, Dan Nardoni, repeatedly tried to discredit the prosecution’s case during opening statements by telling jurors that other men had better access or motive in the killings.
He said that Ellerin had sex with her apartment manager just hours before Kutcher was scheduled to pick her up from her Hollywood apartment.
When detectives interviewed the apartment’s manager Mark Durban after the murder, Nardoni said: ‘He claimed that he had consensual sex with Ashley earlier that night.’
Durban left Ellerin’s apartment around 8.15pm and Kutcher showed up to pick her up at about 10.45pm, the defense attorney told jurors.
Kutcher has previously said that when Ellerin didn’t answer her door, he left, unaware her horribly mutilated body was lying inside.
Attempting to throw doubt on the prosecution’s case, Nardoni said there was no sign of forced entry to Ellerin’s apartment, meaning that either she knew her killer and let him in or somebody unlocked the door.
The defense attorney said that only four people had keys to the apartment: Ellerin, her roommate, her former roommate and Durban. He said the apartment manager was ‘going to be an important witness in this case’.
Nardoni insisted that there is no physical evidence in the Ellerin murder linking to Gargiulo.
‘There are no fingerprints identifiable to Mr Gargiulo. From the body of Ashley Ellerin, there is no DNA identifiable to Mr Gargiulo,’ he said.
Tricia Pacaccio’s body is rolled out from her Chicago, Illinois home in 1993. Gargiulo was a friend of her two brothers
He also argued that there is no physical evidence against his client in the murder of Maria Bruno on December 1, 2005 – another woman he is accused of killing.
‘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,’ Nardoni told jurors.
The defense attorney offered an explanation as to why Bruno had left her husband, Irving Bruno, and was living alone at the time she was killed. He said it was because she ‘was physically abused for nine years in their relationship’.
An altercation that led to Bruno’s husband ‘pushing her, throwing her on the ground and punching her in the face’ was the ‘last straw’ that made her leave him.
Nardoni said that Irving told detectives that sometimes when he was abusive to his wife he would ‘black out’ and not remember hitting her.
Trying to further discredit the prosecution’s case, Nardoni told the court that when detectives showed pictures of Gargiulo and four other possible suspects in Bruno’s murder to another resident at her apartment complex, that person did not identify Gargiulo.
After Gargiulo was arrested in 2008, following the attempted murder of Michelle Murphy, he was put in a cell for nearly two days with two other inmates, who actually were undercover homicide detectives.
‘It was a subterfuge to get him to confess to killing these women,’ Nardoni told the jury.
‘It was a 42-hour interrogation and I can assure you that during those 42 hours Mr Gargiulo did not admit to killing any of these women.’
During the prosecutor’s opening statement earlier this month, the jury heard how Gargiuo would ‘watch, shadow, stalk and hunt down’ his victims before fatally stabbing them for sexual pleasure.
Prosecutor Daniel Akemon called the defendant ‘the boy next door killer’ and described his crimes as ‘the methodical and systematic slaughter of women’.
‘What you will hear is that Michael Gargiulo for almost 15 years was watching, always watching,’ he said. ‘And his hobby was plotting the perfect opportunity to attack women with a knife in and around their homes.’
Gargiulo pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
The trial entered its seventh week this week, with testimony said to continue on Monday.