LOS ANGELES (CN) – On the witness stand in a murder trial Wednesday, actor Aston Kutcher recounted the details of a date he planned with a woman who was killed 18 years ago.
Kutcher is one of several witnesses in the trial of Michael Gargiulo, who is accused of attacking four women with a knife over a 15-year period. Of the four, only one survived.
The actor told jurors about his dinner plans with Ashley Ellerin in 2001. He said he knocked on the door of her Hollywood home around 10:30 p.m. but no one answered. Kutcher did not know the 22-year-old Ellerin was lying outside her bathroom, dead, with over 47 stab wounds to her body.
Kutcher testified he looked through the window of the house and yelled to get Ellerin’s attention. He said he looked through a second window and thought he saw red wine spilled on the floor but didn’t think much of it. He told jurors he also tried to open the front door, but it was locked.
Ellerin’s body was discovered the next day by her roommate.
“I remember the next day after I heard about what happened and I went to the detectives and said, ‘My fingerprints were on the door’ and I was freaking out,” Kutcher testified.
Kutcher said he and Ellerin were acquaintances and only met a handful of times, including once at a party at Ellerin’s home.
Kutcher starred in the sitcom “That 70’s Show” at the time and lived near Ellerin. He said the two made plans in the afternoon to have dinner on Feb. 21, 2001, but he was running late because he went to a friend’s house to watch the Grammy Awards on TV.
Ellerin and Kutcher exchanged multiple phone calls during the day, and Ellerin called Kutcher on a friend’s phone at 8:24 p.m. That was the last time Kutcher spoke to Ellerin.
He was able to provide detectives the exact time of their last conversation, because he brought his cellphone to the police station.
Kutcher said he did not leave messages every time he called Ellerin’s phone or the friend’s phone.
“I was trying to take her on a date and didn’t want to seem too eager,” said Kutcher.
Gargiulo listened to Kutcher recount details of a party at Ellerin’s home. Prosecutors say Gargiulo was at another one of Ellerin’s parties just a few weeks before she was killed.
Previously, Ellerin’s friend Monica Grandy testified Gargiulo crashed her birthday party at Ellerin’s house.
Prosecutors showed Grandy and the jury a photo from the party where Ellerin posed with a group of friends. Grandy noted Gargiulo could be seen in the photograph in the background.
On another occasion, Grandy said when she and Ellerin were alone in her home Gargiulo opened the front door to the home with a key.
Ellerin was upset and yelled, “What the fuck are you doing here?” Grandy testified.
Gargiulo was surprised, red in the face and angry, according to Grandy, and said something about needing to check the furnace. Gargiulo was a heating and air conditioning repair man and sometimes did repair work at Ellerin’s home, and Grandy said Gargiulo left the house after that exchange.
Defense attorney Dale Rubin asked Grandy why she didn’t mention the incident to detectives until a few months prior to the start of the trial. She said it was something she remembered recently when she was able to move away from Los Angeles. Rubin also pointed out detectives had asked Grandy in 2001 if she could think of anyone who would want to hurt Ellerin, but she did not give Gargiulo’s name.
Grandy last saw Gargiulo on Feb. 10, 2001, at a party at Ellerin’s home, which was also the last time she saw Ellerin alive.
Prosecutors say Gargiulo lived near his victims, fixated on them and methodically stalked them before he attacked. In addition to the LA County attacks, which police say occurred between 2001 and 2008, prosecutors say Gargiulo’s first victim was 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio.
Pacaccio was stabbed to death on her front porch in Glenview, Illinois, in 1993. Gargiulo was 17 years old and friends with Pacaccio’s younger brother at the time.