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'Hollywood Ripper' Michael Gargiulo Found Guilty Of Murdering 2 Women

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Following a trial that lasted 3 ½ months, the man known as the "Hollywood Ripper" was found guilty Thursday morning of murdering two women in the Los Angeles area, one of whom was killed on the night she was set to go on a date with actor Ashton Kutcher.

Michael Gargiulo
Michael Gargiulo appears in court for opening statements in his murder trial on May 2, 2019 in Los Angeles, Calif. Gargiulo is charged in the stabbing deaths of two women, one of whom dated actor Ashton Kutcher, and with attempted murder of a woman during a robbery at her home. (Al Seib-Pool/Getty Images)

Following four days of deliberations, a downtown L.A. jury found 43-year-old Michael Gargiulo, an air conditioning repairman, guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for the 2001 and 2005 killings of two young women. Gargiulo was also convicted of attempted murder for a 2008 stabbing of a Santa Monica woman who was able to escape and survived.

Gargiulo was a neighbor of each victim at the time of the attacks.

He showed no visible reaction when the verdicts were read.

Jurors found true special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and multiple murders, opening Gargiulo to a possible death sentence. The jury could give him the death penalty during the sentencing phase of the trial.

Gargiulo is also facing separate charges out of Illinois in the murder of a Chicago-area teenager in 1993.

In February 2001, Garguilo murdered 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin in her Hollywood Hills home. She had been stabbed 47 times.

Kutcher arrived to pick her up for a date following the murder, but left when she did not answer the door. He testified in Gargiulo's trial.

Ashton Kutcher
Actor Ashton Kutcher testifies in court in Los Angeles on May 29, 2019, during the trial of People v Michael Thomas Gargiulo, also known as 'The Hollywood Ripper.' - Kutcher testified about his February 21, 2001, date with fashion student Ashley Ellerin, 22, who was found dead later in the day. Gargiulo is on trial for her murder. (Photo by Frederick M. BROWN / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK M. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2005, Gargiulo is accused of killing a young mother, 32-year-old Maria Bruno, who lived in the same El Monte apartment complex as him. Her breasts had been cut off.

In 2008, Gargiulo moved to Santa Monica, where prosecutors say he tried to stab another woman, 26-year-old Michelle Murphy, to death. Murphy, also a neighbor of Gargiulo, escaped and survived.

Gargiulo's trial began May 2. Kutcher testified in the trial

In 1993, 17-year-old Tricia Pacaccio was stabbed to death on the front porch of her suburban Chicago home. Pacaccio lived just down the street from Gargiulo, who was a friend of her brother's.

According to CBS News, Pacaccio's murder was unsolved until 2011, when two witnesses came forward after watching a "48 Hours Mystery" report on the case. Within a few weeks, Gargiulo was indicted.

The L.A. trial will move into a second phase next week, when jurors will be asked to determine if Gargiulo was sane at the time of the crimes. If jurors find he was sane, the trial will then move to a penalty phase, in which they will recommend either a death sentence or life in prison without parole.

Once the L.A. trial is over, Gargiulo will be sent back to Illinois to face murder charges in Pacaccio's death.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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