Why Did Ashton Kutcher Testify at a Murder Trial?

Ashton Kutcher was in court in Los Angeles on May 29 to testify in the trial of a suspected serial killer.

Michael Gargiulo — aka the “Hollywood Ripper” — has been charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of Ashley Ellerin, who was killed in 2001, and Maria Bruno, who was murdered in 2005. He’s also been charged with the attempted murder in 2008 of a third woman, Michelle Murphy.

Kutcher has a connection to one of the victims

Ashton Kutcher
Ashton Kutcher testifies during the trial of alleged serial killer Michael Gargiulo on May 29, 2019. | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Kutcher was called to testify in the murder trial because he had a connection with one of the victims. On the night she was killed, the 22-year-old Ellerin was supposed to go on a date with the That ‘70s Show star.

Kutcher and Ellerin had made plans to get together on the night of February 21, 2001. The actor spoke to her that evening on the phone to let her know he was running late. Later, he called her again but she didn’t answer.

“I was trying to take her on a date and I didn’t want to sound overeager, so I just left her a message,” Kutcher said on the stand, according to US Weekly. Later, he stopped by her house to see if she was home, but when he knocked on the door, no one answered.

The actor said that he looked through a window and saw what he believed to be red wine spilled on the carpet. He then left. “I assumed she had left for the night and I was late and she was upset,” he said.

Kellerin’s roommate discovered her body the next morning. She had been stabbed 47 times.

Kutcher initially feared police might suspect him

When Kutcher learned the next day that Ellerin had been killed, he immediately started “freaking out,” he said during cross examination.

The actor was worried because his fingerprints were on the victim’s front door. He said that he immediately called the police to explain what had happened. Police say that he was never considered a suspect in the crime, according to CNN.  

A vicious killer

Prosecutors say that Gargiulo, who was a 24-year-old air conditioning repairman at the time of Ellerin’s death, is a “serial, psychosexual thrill killer.” They allege that he stalked and then attacked several women who lived near him.

In addition to the three victims in California, Gargiulo has also been charged with murdering another woman in Illinois. In 1993, his 18-year-old neighbor Tricia Pacaccio was stabbed to death outside of her home. Police suspected he might have committed that crime, but were unable to gather enough evidence to prove it.   

Police suspect that Gargiulo might have killed even more women.

“I think there’s a very real chance” that there are additional victims, Los Angeles Police Department Detective Tom Small told 48 Hours Mystery in 2011.

“We know that Michael Gargiulo traveled a little bit — between Illinois and California,” Small added. “We would certainly love to hear from investigators or other witnesses, people that have knowledge that maybe knew him or ran into him, at some point.”

Gargiulo, who is now 43, had pleaded not guilty in the current trial. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

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