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Suspect in court for murder of Kutcher ex

September 4, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A suspected serial killer pleaded not guilty Thursday to the stabbing deaths of two women, including Ashley Ellerin, the ex-girlfriend of actor Ashton Kutcher.Michael Thomas Gargiulo is an air-conditioning repairman now charged with the stabbing deaths of two Southern California women. He's also a suspect in the 1993 murder of a Chicago-area teen.

The District Attorney's office says no decision has been made yet on whether to seek the death penalty against Michael Thomas Gargiulo. Thursday Gargiulo denied killing the ex-girlfriend of actor Ashton Kutcher.

Thirty-two-year-old Michael Gargiulo was shielded by his attorney as he appeared in an L.A. courtroom Thursday to face new charges in the murders of two women.

One of the victims is identified as Ashley Ellerin, the ex-girlfriend of actor Ashton Kutcher. Authorities say Gargiulo fatally stabbed her.

The other victim is a Monterey Park woman named Maria Bruno, who was stabbed to death in 2005.

Gargiulo's attorney spoke to Eyewitness News Thursday afternoon.

"We just found out about it this morning," said defense attorney Anthony Salerno. "Got a pile of discovery, no exaggeration that it was this thick, and apparently more to come. And Michael is adamant that he did not commit these crimes. He pled not guilty today."

Gargiulo has been behind bars since July for the April 28 knife attack on a Santa Monica woman. In that case, authorities say DNA collected from that crime helped link Gargiulo to the other two murders. Gargiulo is facing attempted-murder and burglary charges in that case.

"A woman was in her apartment and she awoke to being stabbed by somebody," said Salerno. "Later, blood evidence supposedly linked Michael to that crime."

Kutcher, who is married to actress Demi Moore, told police he went to pick up 22-year-old Ellerin for a post-Grammy Awards party in 2001, but she didn't answer the door. He checked a back window and spotted what he thought were red wine stains on the carpet, and then left. Her body was discovered the next day by a friend. Kutcher was never considered a suspect.

Police have said Gargiulo might be linked to another murder in 1993 in a Chicago suburb. Gargiulo's defense attorney Anthony Salerno says that his client denies any link to that. His next court date in Southern California is October 20.

 

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