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Serial Killer Arrested by Santa Monica Police Faces Death Penalty

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By Lookout Staff

August 22, 2019 -- A jury on Thursday found convicted serial killer Michael Gargiulo, known as the "Hollywood Ripper," was sane when he murdered two women and attempted to murder a third in her Santa Monica apartment.

The six-man, six-woman panel deliberated for several hours before making the finding against Gargiulo, 43, who now faces the death penalty.

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Gargiulo was found guilty last week of two counts of first-degree murder "with the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and lying in wait, making him eligible for the death penalty," prosecutors said Thursday.

He also was convicted of one count of "willful, deliberate and premeditated attempted murder and attempted escape ("Jury Finds Former Santa Monica Resident Guilty of Double Murder," August 16, 2019).

The penalty phase of the trial is expected to begin September 9, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

Prosecutors said Gargiulo, a former handyman and aspiring actor, committed a series "frenzied" and grusesome knife attacks on selected female neigbors between 2001 and 2008 while he lived in different parts of the LA area.

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.

Prosecutors said he stabbed Murphy eight times before she fought him off, becoming a key witness for the prosecution in the three-month-long trial.

In its closing argument, the defense said that Gargiulo suffered from a mental disorder that put him in an amnesiac state when he attacked Murphy in her bed.

Prosecutors told the jury that Gargiulo “knew exactly what he was doing in these well-planned attacks" ("Final Arguments End in Trial of Accused Serial Killer Arrested in Santa Monica," August 9, 2019).

While in jail for the attempted murder of Murphy, Gargiulo was tied to 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.

Prosecutors said Gargiulo stabbed Ellerin 47 times in her Hollywood Hills home in February 2001, nearly decapitating her ("Serial Sexual-Thrill Killer' Arrested by Santa Monica Police Goes on Trial," May 1, 2019).

In his 2005 stabbing of Bruno, prosecutors said he “quite literally butchered her -- stabbing her multiple times, slitting her throat, slicing off her breasts, and staging them for family members and police to find."

The case against Gargiulo was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the El Monte, Los Angeles and Santa Monica police departments.

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