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Santa Monica Suspect Denies Killings

By Lookout Staff

September 5 -- An air conditioning repairman from Santa Monica pleaded not guilty Thursday to the stabbing deaths of two women, including a former girlfriend of actor Ashton Kutcher.

Michael Thomas Gargiulo, 32, faces two counts of murder and two counts of burglary in connection with the killings of Ashley Ellerin, Kutcher's 22-year-old former girlfriend, in the Hollywood Hills, and Maria Bruno, 32, in Monterey Park, prosecutors said.

"He is adamant he was not involved," Anthony Salerno, Gargiulo's attorney told the press.

The Los Angeles District Attorney has not decided whether to seek the death penalty, according to a spokeswoman for the DA’s office.

Gargiulo pleaded not guilty to the charges when he appeared in court Thursday as part of a separate case in which he is charged with attempted murder and burglary for attacking a women with a knife while she was asleep in her Santa Monica apartment in April.

The victim, who was alone in her unit in a complex on the 1200 block of 12th Street, was able to fight off the suspect, who fled on foot, according to police.

Garguilo was tied by DNA evidence to the killings after Santa Monica Police arrested him in July for the knife attack. He is being held in lieu of $1.1 million bail in connection with the attack.

Ellerin was found stabbed to death in her home in the Hollywood Hills in February 2001, when she was dating Kutcher, star of TV hit “That '70s Show.”

In the 2001 case, Kutcher told police that Ellerin had failed to answer the door when he went to pick up the student fashion model at her home to attend a post-Grammy Awards party.

Ellerin was found dead the following day by a friend. Kutcher was never a suspect in the case.

Authorities say Gargiulo also might be linked to the 1993 stabbing death of Tricia Pacaccio, a senior at Glenbrook South High School in the Chicago area, where he lived at the time. Pacaccio was found stabbed to death on her front doorstep, clutching her door key.

The investigation remained open, according to a spokesman for the Cook County State Attorney's Office.

Authorities suspect Gargiulo may have committed similar attacks.

"We're interested in hearing from anyone who's even loosely connected with this guy," sheriff's Detective Mark Lillienfeld told the Associated Press.





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