On the night of Feb. 21, 2001, Ashton Kutcher arrived for a first date worried because he was almost three hours late.
When his knocks on Ashley Ellerins’s door went unanswered, the actor — who testified last week in a Los Angeles courtroom in the capital murder trial of alleged serial killer Michael Gargiulo — said he looked through the front window. When he didn’t see her, he said he “just assumed that she had gone out with her friend and bailed.”
Kutcher, who was starring on That 70’s Show at the time, testified that earlier in the evening he had grown sidetracked watching the Grammy Awards with friends at actress Kristy Swanson‘s house.
“Kind of lost track of time a little bit,” he testified. “I probably left at like 10 o’clock, somewhere around there, and realized it was later than I anticipated and wanted to call her to let her know, you know, I was on my way.”
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Ellerin, a student at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising who hoped to one day start her own fashion line, never picked up. Prosecutors allege that shortly after she had her last phone call with Kutcher at 8:24 p.m., Gargiulo snuck into her Hollywood home and stabbed her 47 times while she was getting ready for her outing with the actor, who is currently starring on Netflix’s sitcom The Ranch.
By the time Kutcher arrived at her home between 10:30 and 10:45 p.m., Ellerin, who also studied at UCLA’s prestigious fine arts undergraduate program, was dead.
Kutcher later told police he knocked on the door twice but nobody answered. Before he left, he peered through a front window and saw what he believed were red wine stains on the floor.
“I saw what I thought was like red wine spilled on the carpet, but that was also not that alarming to me at the time because I had just been to a party at her house like a week ago and it was kind of – it was almost like a college party and there were a lot of people and they were drinking, and so I didn’t really think anything of it,” he said.
Kutcher said he left, figuring that “I kind of had screwed up and showed up too late and she left.”
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Kutcher, now married to actress Mila Kunis, was one of more than 100 witnesses who have or are scheduled to testify in the murder trial of 43-year-old Gargiulo. Prosecutors have described him as a “serial psychosexual thrill killer” who stalked and then viciously stabbed his unsuspecting victims — all young women who lived nearby.
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.
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