Michelle Murphy, one of the surviving victims of convicted serial killer Michael Gargiulo, testified in court this week about the long-lasting trauma — and sleepless nights — she suffered following her attempted stabbing, as a jury deliberated sentencing.
Gargiulo, who prosecutors said killed for “psychosexual gratification,” was convicted in August for murdering two women, including actor Ashton Kutcher’s girlfriend, more than a decade ago in the Hollywood hills, ABC reported. The former air conditioner repairman, dubbed the “boy next door killer,” was also convicted in the attempted killing of Murphy.
On Tuesday, the then 27-year-old recalled the moment she snapped out of slumber to find Gargiulo in her bedroom, hovering over her, waving a knife. At first, Murphy testified, she thought she was dreaming. She managed to fend off the attacker, who cut himself, and fled.
“I was fighting with everything I had,” Murphy told the court, according to PEOPLE.com.
Gargiulo, who was known to stalk his victims, was linked to the crime through DNA evidence.
During the penalty phase of the trial, Murphy recounted the fear that gripped her following the vicious bedside attack. She spent months tossing and turning, fearful of the dark, unable to sleep, and wracked with insomnia.
“Initially in the days, weeks and months after it happened I barely even slept,” Murphy also described. “I feared the nighttime and going to bed…I still slept with the lights on for a long time.”
She confessed to never going back to the apartment, and for certain period, steered clear of her former neighborhood altogether.
“We would avoid that section of town for a long time,” she added, according to the PEOPLE.com report.
Gargiulo was convicted for the 2005 killing of Maria Bruno, as well as Ashley Ellerin, who was stabbed 47 times in her Los Angeles home in 2001. Ellerin, the former girlfriend of Kutcher, who also testified during the trial, was supposed to go on a date with the “That 70s Show” actor on the night she was killed.
Kutcher told jurors that he stopped at Ellerin’s home on the night her killing but she didn’t answer. Assuming he had been stood up, Kutcher left, but not before peeking through the window. Inside, he told the jury, he spotted a "little bit of a mess," which looked like "red wine spilled on the carpet," ABC reported.
Ellerin supposedly met Gargiulo after the father of two stopped to help change her tire on the side of the road.
"I started crawling around the bedroom on my hands and knees like an animal, screaming," Ashley’s mother Cynthia Ellerin also testified in court, according to ABC affiliate KABC-TV, upon learning of her daughter's murder.
“The primal scream — I will never stop hearing that,” recalled Mike Ellerin, Ashley's father, upon relaying the news of his daughter’s murder to his wife.
The “serial sexual thrill killer” could face the death penalty. Authorities suspect he’s also behind the gruesome stabbing of Tricia Pacaccio, who was found with 17 puncture wounds on her doorstep at her Illinois home in 1993. The convicted killer is expected to stand trial there following his sentencing in California.
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