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A man known as the “Hollywood Ripper” has been sentenced to death for the murder of two women and attempted killing of a third.

Michael Gargiulo, 45, was convicted almost two years ago, but delays due to procedural problems and the COVID pandemic means it was only on Friday that he was ordered to death row.

The families of his victims wept in court as Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler announced the sentence, saying: “Everywhere that Mr Gargiulo went, death and destruction followed him.”

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler. Pic: Associated Press
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Judge Larry Fidler ‘death and destruction’ followed Gargiulo. Pic: Associated Press

Gargiulo’s case first came to prominence as one of his victims died before they were due to go on a date with actor Ashton Kutcher two decades ago.

The 45-year-old was convicted of the 2001 killing of fashion designer Ashley Ellerin, 22, and also the 2005 murder of 32-year-old mother-of-four Maria Bruno.

Ms Ellerin had been due to go on a date with the then up-and-coming comedy star Kutcher, who has since starred in The Butterfly Effect and Two And A Half Men.

During the trial, the court heard testimony from the actor, who would have been around 23 at the time.

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He spoke of how Ms Ellerin did not answer the door at her Hollywood home when he went to pick her up, and after looking inside he noticed what he thought were wine stains – marks which were actually her blood.

Ms Ellerin was found with 47 stab wounds.

actor Ashton Kutcher testifies in the murder trial of Michael Gargiulo in Los Angeles Superior Court. File Pic: Associated Press
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Ashton Kutcher testified earlier in the trial. Pic: Associated Press

Her father, Michael Ellerin, told the court he was tempted to recreate his wife Cynthia’s “mournful scream and primal wailing after finding out that Ashley had been murdered”.

“It marked the beginning of an altered, diminished, heartbreaking life,” he said.

The apartments where Maria Bruno lived. Pic: Associated Press
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The apartments where Maria Bruno lived. Pic: Associated Press

The second killing took place at Ms Bruno’s home in east Los Angeles in 2005.

Her body was found with her breasts cut off and her implants removed.

Gargiulo was also found guilty of the 2008 attempted murder of Michelle Murphy in her flat in Santa Monica.

Ms Murphy spoke of how she fought off her attacker, asking the court: “How is it fair that one person’s actions can destroy the lives of so many?”

The murderer fled the scene of that incident but left behind a trail of blood – a fact which led to his arrest.

Survivor Michelle Murphy addresses serial killer Michael Thomas Gargiulo during a victim's statement at his sentencing hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court
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Survivor Michelle Murphy addressed the serial killer in court. Pic: Associated Press

Gargiulo had worked as an air conditioning and heating repairman, bouncer, and aspiring actor.

He was also known in US media as “The Chiller Killer” and by prosecutors as “The Boy Next Door Killer”, as he lived near his victims before stalking and attacking them.

Gargiulo claims he was prevented from testifying by his legal team, saying he was going to death row “wrongfully and unjustfully” after the Californian jury recommended a death sentence.

The judge agreed with the recommendation but it’s unlikely it will be carried out any time soon, as the state of California has not executed anyone since 2006 and the current governor has halted executions while in office.

Serial killer Michael Thomas Gargiulo is taken away by sheriff deputies after Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler sentenced to death. Pic: Associated Press
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It is unlikely Gargiulo will be executed any time soon. Pic: Associated Press

Gargiulo will now be extradited to the state of Illinois, where he will stand trial for the 1993 killing of Tricia Pacaccio.

California prosecutors used evidence from this case to demonstrate a pattern of behaviour.

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Boy, 10, ‘shot mother dead after she refused to buy him a virtual reality headset’

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Boy, 10, 'shot mother dead after she refused to buy him a virtual reality headset'

A 10-year-old boy allegedly shot and killed his mother because she would not buy him a virtual reality headset.

The boy at first claimed the shooting was an accident, but later said he intentionally aimed at his mother.

He is said to have logged into her Amazon account and ordered a headset the morning after she died, according to his aunt and sister, who claim he has not cried or showed any remorse.

The boy has been charged as an adult with first-degree reckless homicide and is in juvenile detention.

The incident happened just before 7am on 21 November in the city of Milwaukee in Wisconsin.

State law requires children as young as 10 to be charged as adults for certain serious crimes, but lawyers can request the case is moved to a juvenile court.

One of the boy’s lawyers, Angela Cunningham, said: “This is an absolute family tragedy.

“I don’t think anybody would deny or disagree with that… the adult system is absolutely ill-equipped to address the needs of a 10-year-old child.”

The boy is said to have told officers he got the gun from his mother’s bedroom and went down to the basement where she was doing laundry, according to criminal charges seen by the Journal Sentinel, a local newspaper.

Milwaukee Police initially said that the boy was “playing” with the gun when it fired, fatally injuring his mother.

Read more from the US:
William and Kate booed at basketball game
Analysis: America’s problem with guns stands alone
Country star dies hours after getting married

The force said the incident would be referred to the Milwaukee County District Attorney General’s Office for review.

They also reminded the public to “keep firearms secured with a gunlock and out of the reach of children”.

A day after the incident, however, concerned relatives called the police.

History of ‘disturbing behaviour’

The boy is said to have a history of “disturbing behaviour”, including swinging a puppy around by its tail when he was four.

His family told police he filled a balloon with flammable liquid and set it alight, causing an explosion that burned furniture and the carpet.

When questioned by his family, the boy said he hears imaginary people talking to him.

He also physically attacked his seven-year-old cousin on the day of the shooting.

In a second interview with police, he said he tried shooting a wall to “scare her” when she walked in front of him and was wounded, according to the charge sheet.

He also told them he took the gun because his mother woke him up 30 minutes earlier than usual, at 6am, that day.

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Jake Flint: US country star, 37, dies just hours after getting married

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Jake Flint: US country star, 37, dies just hours after getting married

US country music star Jake Flint has died unexpectedly at the age of 37, just hours after getting married.

The Oklahoma-based singer/songwriter died in his sleep after he tied the knot with wife Brenda on Saturday.

His heartbroken bride posted on Facebook: “We should be going through wedding photos but instead, I have to pick out clothes to bury my husband in.

“People aren’t meant to feel this much pain.

“My heart is gone and I just really need him to come back.

“I can’t take much more. I need him here.”

She also shared a picture of the couple dancing after their nuptials on Facebook, writing “I don’t understand.”

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Mr Flint’s publicist, Clif Doyal, said the musician died in his sleep in the early hours of the morning on Sunday, 27 November.

“Flint had exchanged wedding vows with Brenda Wilson on Saturday. He was 37.

“No official cause of death has been determined.”

In a statement shared by Mr Doyal, Mr Flint’s family said they were “broken” over the “tragic loss” of their beloved son, brother, uncle and partner, known to them as Jacob.

“He valued his family, friendships and living life to the fullest, which was evident in his songwriting.

“Every person who knew him has a story of his wit, charm, talent and compassion.

“We are so grateful for the outpouring of support and the many beautiful tributes that have been shared about the impact Jacob had on many lives.

“While we grieve what we know could have been, we are grateful that his talent and love live on in his songs.”

A service for Mr Flint will take place on Monday at Cedar Point Church in Claremore, Oklahoma.

Instead of flowers, the family have requested donations to the Red Dirt Relief Fund, an organisation which provides emergency assistance funding grants to musicians in need.

A fundraising campaign has also been launched to raise money for the family of Mr Flint, described as a “great man in our music community.”

The musician was in the middle of a multi-state tour and had been scheduled to perform in Claremore on Friday.

His former manager, Brenda Cline, said she “loved him much like a son”, hailing him as the “funniest, most hilarious, hardest working, dedicated artist I have ever worked with in my career.”

“Jake has a million friends and I’m not sure how everyone will cope with this tragic loss,” she wrote on Facebook.

“This is going to be incredibly difficult for so many. We love you Jake and in our hearts forever.”

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William and Kate met by chants of ‘USA, USA’ and pockets of booing as race row clouds visit

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William and Kate met by chants of 'USA, USA' and pockets of booing as race row clouds visit

The Prince and Princess of Wales’ first overseas trip since the Queen’s death has been overshadowed by controversy at home.

William and Kate arrived in Boston yesterday for a three-day visit before the Earthshot Prize, the prince’s environmental awards ceremony, on Friday.

Hours earlier, the prince’s godmother resigned from her duties at Buckingham Palace after repeatedly asking a black visitor “where she really came from”.

Ngozi Fulani, CEO of Sistah Space
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Ngozi Fulani
Lady Susan Hussey
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Lady Susan Hussey

A Kensington Palace spokesman who spoke to William before he boarded his flight said Lady Susan Hussey’s comments were “unacceptable” and that “racism has no place in our society”.

He added that Lady Hussey, 83, was right to have stepped aside from her honorary role as Lady of the Household with immediate effect.

The monarchy has faced allegations of institutional racism since Ngozi Fulani, a British-born charity boss, revealed what had happened at an event in Buckingham Palace on Tuesday.

Lady Hussey, who served as the Queen’s lady in waiting for more than 60 years, has offered her “profound apologies for the hurt caused”.

William focused on the Earthshot Prize as he greeted crowds in Boston, saying: “We are both looking forward to spending the next few days learning about the innovative ways the people of Massachusetts are tackling climate change.”

The White House has confirmed that the royal couple are set to meet Joe Biden, the president, later this week.

William and Kate sat courtside to watch an NBA game and were booed by small pockets of the crowd around the stadium when they were introduced by an announcer and shown on the big screen.

At one point, some fans in the crowd could be heard loudly cheering “USA, USA” when the couple appeared on the screens in the centre above the court.

File photo dated 29/11/2022 of Ngozi Fulani (centre left) at a reception at Buckingham Palace, London. The prominent black advocate for survivors of domestic abuse has revealed how she was repeatedly asked by a member of the Buckingham Palace household at the Queen Consort's reception where she "really came from". Issue date: Wednesday November 30, 2022.
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Ngozi Fulani, left, and the Queen Consort at the palace on Tuesday

Analysis: William and Kate will work hard to win back America

Laura Bundock

Royal correspondent

@laurabundock

The timing could not be worse.

William and Kate haven’t been to the US for eight years, a time period that has seen monumental change for the monarchy.

It’s also their first time in America since Prince Harry and Meghan left Britain for California.

“What’s been unfolding in Britain over the past 24 hours provides a really prime opportunity for William and Kate,” said Arianne Chernock, Professor of British History at Boston University. “If they were to come out with their own public statement in Boston that would really resonate with the American public.”

This is a chance for them to rebuild royal relations in America.

The fallout from Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah, watched by millions around the world, damaged the image of the Royal Family.

This latest racism row will do little to repair that, especially in the US.

“This was not the sort of thing they wanted happening right at the start of their trip,” said Washington Post royal columnist Autumn Brewington. “This will be seen by many people as substantiating things that Meghan and Harry have said both in terms of perhaps the comments that were made to them, and the palace’s hesitation to act on things that were said to them.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will make more headlines soon with their impending Netflix series, and the release of Harry’s much-hyped memoir.

The Prince and Princess of Wales’ visit was supposed to help put the Royal Family back on the front foot in the US.

It also gives them a world stage to champion causes they care about.

Their engagements in Boston are based around climate change, vulnerable young people, sport and the early years.

“This is a really important moment for the couple to reset basically and indicate where the royal family is going to be in the years to come,” said Prof Chernock.

Boston has a deep history with the Royal Family, it was the birthplace of the American revolution, and there remains a fascination with the British monarchy.

Expect to see the Prince and Princess of Wales working hard to win back America.

Charity boss reacts to resignation

Buckingham Palace said yesterday that it was taking the incident “extremely seriously” and described Lady Hussey’s comments as “unacceptable and deeply regrettable”.

Ms Fulani works as an advocate for survivors of domestic abuse and described the exchange as a “violation”.

Speaking to LBC, the chief executive of Sistah Space said “nobody from the palace has spoken to me”, but she would be “happy to have a conversation to bring about a positive solution”.

Reflecting further, she said: “To be honest I wish that the lady could be spoken to and know the damage she has caused and preferably not be front-facing.

“But for her to resign, that has nothing to do with me. I don’t feel good about that. She’s an elder and in my culture we respect elders.

“Conversations need to be had with the relevant people so this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.”

Last year, the Duchess of Sussex claimed that a member of the royal household raised concerns about what colour skin her son Archie would have before he was born.

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Hussey ‘interrogated’ Fulani – witness

Royals must ‘step up’

Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, who was standing next to Ms Fulani and witnessed the exchange, said she was “stunned”.

“It was really uncomfortable. If Ngozi was a white woman there is no way that line of questioning would have taken place. It’s not what you expect,” she told Sky News.

“We weren’t gate crashers, but we were made to feel almost like trespassers.”

Asked if she was reassured by Lady Hussey stepping down and apologising, she said no – and that the royals need to “step up” and acknowledge that “institutional racism is part of the culture”.

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