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Jury Recommends Death Penalty for Santa Monica Man Who Murdered Two Women

6 men and 6 women say "Michael Gargiulo, 43, should be sentenced to death" for stabbing Ashley Ellerin, 22

A jury today recommended the death penalty for a 43-year-old man who killed two women and tried to murder a female neighbor over a seven-year period, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office announced.

A six-man, six-woman panel deliberated for several hours before determining that Michael Gargiulo, 43, should be sentenced to death. Gargiulo is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 28 in Department 106 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

In August, jurors found the defendant guilty of two counts of first-degree murder with the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and lying in wait. He also was convicted of one count of willful, deliberate and premeditated attempted murder and attempted escape.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has called a moratorium on all executions. Typically death penalty sentences are followed by 15 to 20 years of appeals.

In February 2001, Gargiulo broke into the Hollywood Hills home of 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin and fatally stabbed her. Gargiulo also murdered and mutilated his 32-year-old neighbor Maria Bruno while she was asleep in December 2005. Both had lived in an apartment complex in El Monte, prosecutors said.

In 2008, the defendant attacked Michelle Murphy, 26, in her Santa Monica home and stabbed her. She fought off Gargiulo who was her neighbor and was cut during the struggle. DNA evidence and details of that attack connected him to all three crimes, prosecutors said.

Gargiulo also has been charged in the 1993 slaying of Tricia Pacaccio, 18, in the Chicago area. Prosecutors were able to present details about the murder as supporting evidence during the trial.

Case SA068002 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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