The actor was supposed to go on a first date with Ashley Ellerin before she was stabbed to death

By Steve Helling and Christine Pelisek
May 30, 2019 12:18 PM
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All eyes were on Ashton Kutcher when took the stand on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

The 41-year-old actor was testifying 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, who was killed in 2001.

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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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.

Here are five things to know about the actor’s time on the stand.

1. Kutcher and Ellerin Were Newly Single, and Had Scheduled a First Date

Kutcher, who was 23 at the time, had planned to go to dinner and drinks with Ellerin, 22, on the evening of Feb. 21, 2001.

He had met her the previous December, when they were both dating other people. By February, they discovered that they were both newly single, so they scheduled a first date, Kutcher testified in court on Wednesday.

But the date never happened. While Ellerin was getting ready, prosecutors say Gargiulo snuck into the woman’s Hollywood home and stabbed her 47 times.

2. Before the Date, Kutcher Was at Actress Kristy Swanson’s House

Prior to going to Ellerin’s home, Kutcher had been watching the Grammy Awards at actress Kristy Swanson‘s house, he testified. He was supposed to leave Swanson’s house in time for an early date.

“We had sort of set up a plan to meet at 8 to have dinner or drinks,” he testified. When Kutcher realized he was going to be late, he called Ellerin at 8:24 p.m. After informing her that he was running behind, she said she would blow dry her hair. It was the last time he would ever speak to her.

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.

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3. Kutcher thought He Had Been Stood Up — But Ellerin Had Been Murdered

Kutcher testified that on the night Ellerin was killed, he arrived at her home 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.”

4. Kutcher Peered into Ellerin’s Window and Thought Her Blood was Red Wine Stains

Kutcher told police that before he left, he peered through a 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.”

Michael Gargiulo
| Credit: Al Seib-Pool/Getty

5. After Ellerin’s Murder, Kutcher Was ‘Freaking Out’ About His Fingerprints on Her Door

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.