Ashton Kutcher had dinner and drink plans with murder victim Ashley Ellerin, 22, on the evening of Feb. 21, 2001
Ashton Kutcher testified Wednesday in the trial of suspected serial killer Michael Gargiulo, who faces two counts of murder in connection with the deaths of two women, including Kutcher’s friend Ashley Ellerin.
Kutcher, now 41, had planned to go to dinner and drinks with Ellerin, 22, on the evening of Feb. 21, 2001 after having met her the previous December. Instead, prosecutors say Gargiulo snuck into the woman’s Hollywood home and stabbed her 47 times while she was getting ready for her outing with the actor, which the actor described in court as a first date after the pair discovered they were both newly single.
Kutcher testified that on the night Ellerin was killed, they had dinner and drink plans and had spoken on the phone earlier in the evening. But later on, he tried her multiple times and she didn’t pick up — and when he came to her home between 10:30 and 10:45 p.m., nobody answered when he knocked and the door was locked, despite the fact that the lights inside were on.
He testified he “just assumed she had gone out with her friend and bailed.”
But prosecutors believe Ellerin had been murdered by then.
Prior to going to Ellerin’s home, Kutcher had been watching the Grammy Awards at actress Kristy Swanson‘s house, he said: “I assumed she had left for the night and I was late and she was upset.”
The next day, when he learned Ellerin had been murdered, 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 said. “I told [an officer], ‘Let me tell you what happened.’ “
Kutcher testified for about 40 minutes, wearing a blue suit with a light blue shirt and a tie. Ellerin’s father was present for Kutcher’s testimony.
The 41-year-old star of Netflix’s The Ranch, 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.
Gargiulo was a 24-year-old air conditioning repairman and former bouncer at the Rainbow Bar & Grill when he first met Ellerin, a student at L.A.’s Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, outside her home in the fall of 2000, asking her if she needed help fixing a flat tire.
Ellerin’s friends later told police that Gargiulo, who lived less than a block away from her, would show up at her house uninvited. Another friend said he saw Gargiulo parked outside her bungalow at odd hours, surveilling her home.
Kutcher Thought Victim’s Blood Was Red Wine Stain
On the evening of Feb. 21, 2001, Ellerin spoke to Kutcher at 8:24 p.m. night to confirm their plans, prosecutors have said. Prosecutors believe she was killed shortly after her call with the star.
“We believe she had just exited the shower and was getting ready to go out with Mr. Kutcher when she was attacked from behind,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Dan Akemon said during opening statements.
Prosecutors have previously said Kutcher believed he had been stood up when Ellerin didn’t answer her phone or her door.
Kutcher told police that before he left, he peered through a front window and saw what he believed were red wine stains on the floor.
But prosecutors believe the stains were from blood.
Kutcher testified, “I saw what I thought was red wine spilled on the carpet. 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.”
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Ellerin’s roommate found her body the following morning.
Akemon said 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.”
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.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
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.