Hollywood Ripper trial – ‘Serial killer nearly decapitated Ashton Kutcher’s girlfriend in knife frenzy before star mistook blood pools for red wine’

THE girlfriend of film star Ashton Kutcher was the victim of a serial killer, a court heard.

Fashion student Ashley Ellerin, 22, was almost decapitated in a frenzied 2001 knife attack as she got ready for a party.

Ashton, now 41, arrived minutes later but when he looked in the window thought blood on her carpet was a wine stain.

Michael Gargiulo, 43, is on trial accused of being the Hollywood Ripper.

The married plumber is said to have stalked and killed three women between 1993 and 2008 in California and Illinois.

He is also accused of trying to kill another woman in the Los Angeles area between 2001 and 2008.

District Attorney Dan Akemon told the jury that Gargiulo — a husband and father with his own plumbing business — had led a “double life” as a killer.

He said: “What you will hear is that Michael Gargiulo for almost 15 years was watching and waiting.

“His hobby was to wait for the perfect opportunity to attack women in and around their homes.

“Ashley Ellerin led a glamorous life. She was a beautiful 22-year-old fashion student who socialised with the Hollywood crowd."

Jurors were shown a board with the pictures of Gargiulo’s four alleged victims and their ages when they were attacked.

'DOUBLE LIFE' AS A KILLER

In addition to killing Ashley, he is accused of murdering his 18-year-old neighbour Tricia Pacaccio in August 1993 in Glenview, Illinois.

In December 2005 he allegedly stabbed his 32-year-old neighbour Maria Bruno to death at her home in El Monte, California.

Defence lawyer Dan Nardoni claimed that Ashley had "consensual sex" with another man hours before she was brutally murdered.

He said she had sex with her apartment manager Mark Durban  just hours before Kutcher was due to pick her up from her apartment.

The pair were due to attend a post-Grammy party on the night she was killed.

Kutcher has said previously that when he arrived to pick her up at around 10.45pm he left when she didn't answer the door, unawares she had been murdered.

He told police at the time that he had looked through her window and saw what he believed was red wine spilled on the floor.

Kutcher told cops he thought she hadn't answered the door because she was mad with him for being late.

Ellerin's body was found the following day by her roommate in the apartment.

She had been stabbed 47 times, some wounds were six inches deep, on her neck, chest, stomach and back while she had been taking a shower.

Nardoni added there was no sign of forced entry to Ellerin's apartment and claimed there was no physical evidence in Ellerin's killing to Garguilo.

'METHODICAL AND SYSTEMATIC SLAUGHTER'

However, prosecutor Daniel Akemon described Gargiulo as "the boy next door killer," saying his crimes involved the "methodical and systematic slaughter of women".

Akemon said: "What you will hear is that Michael Gargiulo for almost 15 years was watching, always watching.

"And his hobby was plotting the perfect opportunity to attack women with a knife in and around their homes."

He added Gargiulo was leading a double life, on one hand a husband and father and on the other "he was attacking women and killing them and he was able to go undetected for almost 15 years."

Akemon said: "Ashley was stabbed to death in the hallway outside her bathroom. She was stabbed over 47 times… she was almost decapitated."

In the murder of Maria Bruno at her home in El Monte in 2005 is claimed Gargiulo stabbed her while she slept.

Gargiulo is then said to have cut off her breasts and attempted to move her implants and place one of her breasts in her mouth.

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He was arrested in Santa Monica in April 2008 after he allegedly attempted to murder his neighbour Michelle Murphy.

Gargiulo’s trial is set to last six months.

He will be tried separately for the murder of Tricia Pacaccio in Illinois in 1993.

Ashley Ellerin was fatally stabbed in February 2001


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