The actor took the stand in the trial of a suspected serial killer dubbed the alleged "Hollywood Ripper"

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When Ashton Kutcher arrived at the home of his date on Feb. 21, 2001, he was more than two hours late.

Then just 23, Kutcher had planned to meet Ashley Ellerin for dinner and drinks at 8 p.m. — but he got sidetracked watching the Grammy Awards with friends at actress Kristy Swanson‘s house.

The date never happened because Ellerin was brutally murdered that night. Prosecutors say that suspected serial killer Michael Gargiulo was the young woman’s killer.

Kutcher took the stand on Wednesday in Los Angeles to recount the fateful night — and he describes arriving at Ellerin’s house between 10:30 and 10:45 p.m. He knocked on the door, and no one answered. There were lights on, so he tried the door. It was locked.

“I assumed she had left for the night and I was late and she was upset,” he testified. “I just assumed she had gone out with her friend and bailed.”

Ashton Kutcher
Ashton Kutcher testifies at trial
| Credit: GENARO MOLINA/AFP/Getty

Before he left, Kutcher — who at the time was in the middle of his successful run on That 70s Show — peeked in a window of Ellerin’s home.

“I saw what I thought was red wine spilled on the carpet,” he testified in court on Wednesday. “But that wasn’t alarming because I went to her house party [days before] and it was like a college party. I didn’t think much about it.”

Ashton Kutcher, Ashley Ellerin
Credit: FREDERICK M. BROWN/AFP/Getty

Kutcher, who is now married to actress Mila Kunis, is one of more than 100 witnesses who have or are scheduled to testify in the murder trial of 43-year-old Gargiulo, who prosecutors have described as a “serial psychosexual thrill killer” who stalked and then viciously stabbed his unsuspecting victims — all young women who lived near him.

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ASHLEY ELLERIN
Ashley Ellerin
| Credit: Courtesy Los Altos H.S./ZUMApress.com
Michael Gargiulo
Michael Gargiulo
| Credit: Al Seib-Pool/Getty

When Kutcher heard about the crime on the following day, he reached out to police. He said he was worried because he’d put his hands on her doorknob while trying to open the front door.

“My fingerprints are on this door and I was freaking out,” he testified. “I told [an officer], ‘Let me tell you what happened.'”

Kutcher was never a suspect in the woman’s death.

Deputy district attorney Daniel Akemon told jurors that Kutcher’s testimony is part of the “chronology of this case” that shows “there was a narrow, very narrow window of opportunity for someone to get into the house and murder Ashley, and whoever that person was must have been watching.”

The trial is ongoing. Kutcher is not expected to testify again.

Gargiulo is also charged with the 2005 stabbing murder of Maria Bruno, 32, and the attempted murder of Michelle Murphy, who was viciously stabbed in her Santa Monica home in 2008.

He also faces a murder charge in Illinois in the death of 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio, who was found stabbed to death outside her Glenview home in 1993.

Gargiulo has pleaded not guilty to all charges in California but has not entered a plea in Illinois. California prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.