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Final Arguments End in Trial of Accused Serial Killer Arrested in Santa Monica
1900 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
By Jorge Casuso
August 9, 2019 -- The fate of an accused serial killer whose alleged murder spree was halted when a Santa Monica tenant fought him off in her apartment is now in the hands of the jury.
Michael Gargiulo, 43, known as the "boy-next-door killer," could face the death penalty for the murders of 22-year-old Hollywood resident Ashley Ellerin in 2001 and the 2005 slaying of 32-year-old Maria Bruno in her El Monte apartment.
Gargiulo was arrested by Santa Monica police for the 2008 attempted murder of Michelle Murphy, who lived across the alley from Gargiulo on the 1200 block of 12th Street.
While in jail for the attempted murder, Gargiulo was tied to the two Los Angeles area killings and another in suburban Chicago ("Santa Monica Suspect Tied to Three Killings," September 2, 2008).
The start of Gargiulo's trail more than three months ago captured international headlines in part because Ellerin was actor Ashton Kutcher's girlfriend ("Serial Sexual-Thrill Killer' Arrested by Santa Monica Police Goes on Trial," May 1, 2019).
In his final argument Friday, Deputy District Attorney Dan Akemon said Gargiulo is a "stone-cold serial killer" who targeted his victims in "frenzied knife attacks" that are "inextricably linked," according to the City News Service.
He would lay in wait at night to attack his victims, who lived near him, brutally assaulting them inside or near their homes in "totally planned killings," Akemon said.
"In this trial, you have seen into the mind of a serial killer," he said, adding that Gargiulo did not make a lot of mistakes, according to City News.
In closing arguments, the defense countered that DNA evidence only tied Gargiulo to his attack on Murphy in her Santa Monica Apartment. His DNA was not found in any of the other crime scenes, they said.
Dale Rubin, one of Gargiulo's attorneys told the jurors the prosecutors had presented "absolutely no evidence" of his client's whereabouts when the slayings of his two other alleged victims took place.
Rubin also argued that in the attack on Murphy, Gargiulo, who one expert said suffered from dissociative identity disorder, may have gone into an "amnesiac" or fugue state, according to City News.
"In other words, he can't premeditate. He can't deliberate," Rubin said.
Prosecutors said the defense's claim that Gargiulo awoke from his amnesiac state while attacking Murphy and apologized while running away was a "complete fabrication," according to City News.
"Tricia Pacaccio, Ashley Ellerin and Maria Bruno, through the evidence in this case, are testifying from the grave and telling you that defendant Gargiulo murdered them," Akemon told the jury.
"Michelle Murphy triumphed over evil that night," he said and urged the jury to hold Gargiulo responsible for the "death and destruction" he had caused.
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