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A man dubbed the 'Hollywood Ripper' has been sentenced to death for the murders of two women - including a former partner of actor Ashton Kutcher.
Michael Thomas Gargiulo, who prosecutors also called 'The Boy Next Door Killer', was handed the sentence at an all-day hearing yesterday (Friday 16 July), for what Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler said were 'vicious and frightening' crimes.
Fidler said: "Everywhere that Mr. Gargiulo went, death and destruction followed him."
Gargiulo, 45, was sentenced to death for the home-invasion murders of two women, along with the attempted murder of a third.
His case received heightened attention because of one of the victims was fashion design student Ashley Ellerin, 22, who had been romantically involved with Ashton Kutcher.
In 2001, Ellerin was murdered in her Hollywood home as she prepared to go out with the star, who testified at the trial - saying he was late to pick her up, and that she did not answer the door.
Kutcher looked inside the property to see blood stains, initially believing they were spilled wine, but Ellerin was later found with 47 stab wounds.
In their closing arguments, prosecutors suggested Ellerin was killed by another man who had been jealous of Kutcher.
Her father, Michael Ellerin, was visiting his daughter from northern California just hours before her death, and spoke at the hearing of the suffering the family went through as they waited years for justice.
He said he'd been tempted to imitate wife Cynthia's 'mournful scream and primal wailing' after finding out about their daughter's murder, adding: "It marked the beginning of an altered, diminished, heartbreaking life."
Along with Ellerin, Gargiulo was convicted of the 2005 murder of 32-year-old Maria Bruno in her home in El Monte, east of Los Angeles.
The mother of four had her breasts cut off, and her implants removed.
Gargiulo - a former air conditioner and heater repairman, bouncer and aspiring actor - was also found guilty of the 2008 attempted murder of Michelle Murphy, who was the key witness at the trial.
Murphy managed to fight Gargiulo off in her Santa Monica apartment, causing him to flee the scene - leaving a trail of blood that led to his arrests for the two previous murders.
She said: "To this day, spending the night alone creates a world of fear in me."
Murphy cried as she spoke about meeting the families of the other two victims, who sadly had not been so lucky.
She added: "How is it fair that one person's actions can destroy the lives of so many?"
Gargiulo was dubbed 'The Boy Next Door Killer' by prosecutors, who said he lived near the victims, stalking them before attacking them in their homes.
He said in court: "I'm going to death row wrongfully and unjustfully.
"I did want to testify and my fundamental choice was blocked."
According to the Associated Press, it is unlikely that Gargiulo will be put to death soon, as California has not executed anyone since 2006 and Gov. Gavin Newsom has halted executions for as long as he is in office.
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