Emotional Testimony Caps Penalty Phase in Capital Murder Trial

Michael Gargiulo listens to an opening statement from his defense attorney, Daniel Nardoni, in Los Angeles Superior Court at his murder trial on May 2, 2019. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool)

LOS ANGELES (CN) – During an emotional testimony on Thursday, the 16-year-old son of convicted murderer Michael Gargiulo asked a Los Angeles jury not to send his father to death row.

“I don’t want my dad to be killed. I’d rather him be alive,” said Gargiulo’s son Andrew. “I don’t see a psychopath. I don’t see a murderer. All I see is my father.”

This August, Gargiulo was convicted for the 2001 murder of Ashley Ellerin at her Hollywood home, the 2005 murder of Maria Bruno and the 2008 attempted murder of Michelle Murphy, who fought back and survived the attack.

Since May of this year, the jury has listened to prosecutors describe how Gargiulo stalked and attacked his victims at night.

Prosecutors also presented evidence in the murder of 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio who was murdered and left for dead on her porch in 1993.

At the time, Gargiulo was 17 years old and lived down the street in the same suburban Chicago neighborhood. Pacaccio’s murder was uncharged in LA County, but murder charges were filed in Cook County, Illinois.

Prosecutors described Gargiulo as the “boy next door” killer and earlier in the week Deputy District Attorney Dan Akemon called Gargiulo a “a sadistic, thrill-killing psychopath who kills and maims for his own personal pleasure.”

Gargiulo’s son was around 5 years old when his father was arrested in 2008, after Gargiulo cut himself when he attacked Murphy in her apartment. He left a trail of blood in her bedroom, which linked him to the other murders.

Photos of Gargiulo with his son were shown to the jury.  Gargiulo watched as his son testified, called by his defense attorneys as the penalty phase in his trial winds down.

Now at 16-years-old, Andrew says he wants to have a relationship with his father, despite his murder convictions.

Earlier in the day, Gargiulo, 43, also listened to Irving Bruno, husband to Maria Bruno, whose body was found mutilated in her El Monte apartment in 2005.

Prosecutors showed jurors photos of Maria and Irving Bruno’s children. Irving Bruno broke down as he described his children being raised without a mother and choosing not to tell them how she died. The couple were estranged at the time, but Irving Bruno was the one who found his wife’s body.

“It’s been extremely tough throughout the years,” he testified. “I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I went through. The images I have seen I cannot un-see them. Those images have caused great pain for me.”

Jurors are scheduled to return to court on Tuesday before they are handed the case.

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