Warning: this article contains descriptions of violence some people may find disturbing.
A serial killer, Michael Gargiulo, nicknamed the "Hollywood Ripper", has been found guilty of murdering two women - including Ashley Ellerin, who Ashton Kutcher was meant to take on a date the night of her death. Gargiulo was also found guilty of attempting to murder one other woman, Michelle Murphy, seven years after his attack on Ellerin.
Murphy, who managed to fight her attacker off, testified against Gargiulo alongside Ashton Kutcher in the trial.
Described as a "stone-cold killer" who used "blitz-style knife attacks" by the prosecution team, Gargiulo could now face the death penalty following the guilty verdict.
"We believe she [Ellerin] had just exited the shower and was getting ready to go out with Mr. Kutcher when she was attacked from behind," said Dan Akemon, a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney, in his opening statement at trial.
During his turn at giving evidence, the court heard how on the night of 21 February 2001, Ashton Kutcher, arrived at Ellerin's house at around 10:30pm. He knocked but had no response, so tried to open the door himself, but found it locked.
"I saw what I thought was red wine spilled on the carpet, but that wasn’t alarming because I went to her house party [days before] and it was like a college party. I didn’t think much about it." PEOPLE reports he told the courtroom.
Unbeknown to Kutcher, now married to Mila Kunis, his date had been murdered, having been stabbed 47 times in her own bathroom, by the air conditioner repairman who lived close by.
LA-based court reporter Nathan Solis tweeted during the trial that the original plan was for Kutcher to pick Ellerin up around 8pm, but that he pushed their date back a couple of hours as he was watching the Grammys at a friend's house.
Kutcher, one of more than 100 witnesses giving evidence in the case, testified that he left Ellerin's house shortly afterwards, believing she had "bailed" on their date and gone out with a friend instead as he was late. He found out the next day what had happened to her.
Records show that Gargiulo had been in custody since his arrest in 2008, following his attack on Murphy. The trial has dragged on for over a decade largely because he has switched attorneys multiple times and, for around three years, wished to represent himself.
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