A man known as the “Hollywood Ripper” has been sentenced to death for the murder of two women and attempted killing of a third.
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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
US death row inmate Anthony Sanchez executed for rape and murder of Juli Busken after being caught by his DNA
A man has been executed in the US for the rape and murder of a dance student which went unsolved for years until DNA from the crime scene was matched to him while he was in prison for burglary.
Anthony Sanchez, 44, protested his innocence as he was strapped down in the death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
He was declared dead 11 minutes after the lethal drugs started to be administered.
While Sanchez maintained he had nothing to do with the 1996 killing of 21-year-old Juli Busken, he took the unusual step of opting not to present a clemency application to the state’s pardon and parole board, which many viewed as the last chance to spare his life.
Ahead of his execution, Sanchez criticised his former lawyers and thanked his supporters, including his spiritual adviser who was in the chamber with him.
He said: “I’m innocent.
“I didn’t kill nobody.”
At one point during the procedure, a member of the execution team entered the chamber and reattached an oxygen monitor that prison officials said had malfunctioned.
Shortly before he was put to death, the US Supreme Court rejected a request for a stay of execution submitted by his new lawyer, who had said he needed more time to go through the case evidence.
Juli Busken’s family ‘has found closure and peace’
Ms Busken had just completed her last term at the University of Oklahoma when she was abducted on 20 December 1996, from the car park of her apartment complex.
Her body was found later near a lake on the outskirts of Oklahoma City.
She had been bound, raped and shot in the head.
Busken had performed as a ballerina in several dance performances during her time at the university and a scholarship was set up in her name at the College of Fine Arts.
Years later, Sanchez was in jail for burglary when DNA from the victim’s clothing was matched to him.
He was convicted and sentenced to die in 2006.
None of Ms Busken’s family attended Thursday’s execution, but state attorney general Gentner Drummond said he had spoken to them several times in recent months.
He said: “Juli was murdered 26 years, nine months and one day ago. The family has found closure and peace.”
Sanchez had long maintained his innocence.
In an interview earlier this year from death row. “That is fabricated DNA.
“That is false DNA. That is not my DNA. I’ve been saying that since day one.”
He said he had declined to seek clemency because even when the five-member pardon and parole board takes the rare step of recommending it, governor Kevin Stitt was unlikely to grant it.
Sanchez said: “I’ve sat in my cell and I’ve watched inmate after inmate after inmate get clemency and get denied clemency. Either way, it doesn’t go well for the inmates.”
Mr Drummond maintained the DNA evidence unequivocally linked Sanchez to Ms Busken’s killing.
He said the odds of randomly selecting an individual with the same genetic profile were one in 94 trillion.
‘Brutal rapist and murderer’
“There is no conceivable doubt that Anthony Sanchez is a brutal rapist and murderer who is deserving of the state’s harshest punishment,” Mr Drummond said in a recent statement.
A private investigator hired by an anti-death penalty group argued the DNA evidence may have been contaminated.
But former Cleveland county district attorney Tim Kuykendall, who was the county’s top prosecutor when Sanchez was tried, has said while the DNA evidence was the most compelling at trial, there was other evidence linking him to the killing, including ballistic evidence and a shoe print found at the crime scene.
Mr Kuykendall said recently: “I know from spending a lot of time on that case, there is not one piece of evidence that pointed to anyone other than Anthony Sanchez.
“I don’t care if a hundred people or a thousand people confess to killing Juli Busken.”
Sanchez is the third inmate put to death in Oklahoma this year and the tenth since the state resumed carrying out the death penalty in 2021 ending a six-year moratorium introduced over concerns about its execution methods.
Angus Cloud: Euphoria star’s cause of death revealed as accidental overdose
Euphoria actor Angus Cloud died from an accidental overdose from a lethal combination of drugs, a California coroner’s report has found.
The 25-year-old was found unresponsive at his family home in Oakland in July.
Cloud died of a lethal mix of methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine and benzodiazepines, the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau confirmed to Sky News’ partner network NBC News.
Following his death, Cloud’s mother said on social media that she believed her son “did not intend to end his life,” and said he had been talking about his plans for himself and his family in the hours before he died.
His family also spoke about his battles with mental health, saying, “we hope that his passing can be a reminder to others that they are not alone and should not fight this on their own in silence”.
The actor had been mourning the death of his own father from mesothelioma (a type of cancer) and had travelled to Ireland to bury him the week before his death.
Cloud was best known for playing the drug dealer Fezco opposite Zendaya on hit teen drama show Euphoria.
He was working in a restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, when he was scouted for his first acting role by Euphoria’s casting director.
Following his death, Euphoria creator Sam Levinson said: “There was no one quite like Angus. He was too special, too talented and way too young to leave us so soon. He also struggled, like many of us, with addiction and depression.
“I hope he knew how many hearts he touched. I loved him. I always will. Rest in peace and God Bless his family.”
:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email email@example.com in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.
Missing toddler found asleep in woods with one family dog ‘as a pillow’ while the other ‘kept her safe’
A missing two-year-old girl who got lost in the woods near her home was found asleep on one of her two family dogs like a furry pillow – while the other “kept her safe”.
Her disappearance sparked a major hunt, with drones and police dogs joining police and local residents to search the remote wooded area of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in the US.
She had walked away from her house with two family dogs before being found with both of them, state police said.
“She laid down and used one of the dogs as a pillow, and the other dog laid right next to her and kept her safe,” lieutenant Mark Giannunzio said.
“It’s a really remarkable story.”
Police were called at around 8pm on Wednesday. A local who had joined the search found the girl around midnight, about three miles from her home.
Mr Giannunzio said the girl was checked by medical staff and appeared to be in good health.
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