Jury Recommends Death Sentence For ‘Hollywood Ripper’

Jury recommends death sentence for 'Hollywood Ripper'
In this file photo taken on May 2, 2019 photos of the deceased are displayed in court during opening statements in Los Angeles, California, in the trial of Michael Gargiulo (screen R).  Al SEIB / POOL / AFP

 

A jury in California recommended the death sentence on Friday for a man dubbed the “Hollywood Ripper” who was earlier found guilty in the gruesome killings of two women at their homes.

Michael Gargiulo, 43, was convicted in August on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder by a Los Angeles jury.

A judge is set to sentence Gargiulo, also described as the “boy next door killer,” on February 28.

Among his victims was 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin, who was found in her Hollywood home with 47 stab wounds in February 2001. On the night of her murder, Ellerin had been due to go on a date with actor Ashton Kutcher, who testified at the trial.

The second murder victim was Maria Bruno, a 32-year-old mother of four and neighbor of Gargiulo who was attacked in her sleep in December 2005 and “quite literally butchered,” prosecutors said.

Those who testified at the trial included Gargiulo’s teenage son, who pleaded with the jury to spare his dad’s life, and Michelle Murphy. She was stabbed eight times in her home by Gargiulo in April 2008 but survived.

Murphy said she woke up on that fateful night to find a man straddling her while he stabbed her in the arms and chest. She managed to fight him off and as he fled from the apartment he yelled “I’m sorry,” she testified.

In this file photo taken on August 6, 2019, Michael Gargiulo listens during closing statements in his capital murder trial in Los Angeles Superior Court. Lucy Nicholson / POOL / AFP

 

Prosecutors during the trial described Gargiulo, an air-conditioning repairman, as a ruthless killer who targeted women who lived near him and waited for the perfect opportunity to attack them at night in or near their homes in “totally planned killings.”

“Two and a Half Men” actor Kutcher told jurors he had gone to Ellerin’s home in Hollywood to pick her up for a date on the night she was murdered, but had arrived late and nobody had answered the door.

He said he had looked through a window and seen what he thought was red wine spilled on the floor before leaving, assuming she had already gone out.

Kutcher said he and Ellerin, a fashion design student, were acquaintances.

Gargiulo was arrested following the attack on Murphy in 2008 in her Santa Monica apartment.

His defense team has argued that he should not get the death sentence, describing their client as a mentally ill man who suffered abuse while growing up.

When his trial in Los Angeles ends, Gargiulo is set to be transferred to Illinois where he is facing charges for the 1993 murder of Tricia Pacaccio, 18, who was killed in front of her home after an evening out with friends.

Gargiulo at the time lived near Pacaccio’s home in the Chicago area and was friends with her brother. Years after the murder, when Gargiulo was already living in Los Angeles, his DNA was matched to the crime scene thanks to improved testing methods.

AFP

 

China’s ‘Jack The Ripper’ Sentenced To Death

Nigerian To Be Executed In Singapore, Clemency Appeal Rejected

 

A serial killer dubbed China’s “Jack the Ripper” for the way he mutilated several of his 11 female victims was sentenced to death on Friday, three decades after the first murder.

Gao Chengyong, 53, robbed, raped and ultimately murdered 11 female victims more than a decade ago, prosecutors from Baiyin City in northwest Gansu province said.

He was found guilty by the Baiyin City Intermediate People’s Court and handed death sentences for both robbery and intentional homicide, and lesser sentences for rape and dishonouring corpses.

Gao targeted young women wearing red and followed them home, often cutting their throats and mutilating their bodies, according to state media reports. The youngest victim was eight years old.

Some victims had their reproductive organs removed, the Beijing Youth Daily said when Gao was arrested in 2016. The court found Gao guilty of those crimes.

“To satisfy his perverted desire to dishonour and sully corpses, many of his female victims’ corpses were damaged and violated,” the court said in a post to its official Weibo social media account.

“The motives of the defendant’s crimes were despicable, his methods extremely cruel, the nature of the acts vile and the details of the crimes serious,” the court said.

Gao “poses a grave threat to society and an urgent danger to others and should be severely punished.”

The murders were carried out in Gansu and the neighbouring region of Inner Mongolia from 1988 to 2002.

Police had been hunting Gao for years.

“The suspect has a sexual perversion and hates women,” police said in 2004 when they linked the crimes for the first time and offered a reward of 200,000 yuan ($30,000) for information leading to an arrest.

“He’s reclusive and unsociable, but patient,” according to the police profiling at the time.

A lead in the case came when police collected and tested the DNA of one of Gao’s relatives over a separate minor crime, the China Daily said.

Police concluded the killer they had been hunting for 28 years was a relation, and Gao’s DNA matched the murderer’s, it added.

The original Jack the Ripper was a serial killer active in east London in the late Victorian era, who is widely believed to have murdered five women, mutilating several of them. Those killings have never been solved.

Gao was stripped of all of his assets and would not appeal the death sentence, the court said.

Supsected South Carolina Serial Killer Pleads Guilty To Seven Murders

An accused serial killer pleaded guilty to seven murders at a court in South Carolina on Friday and was given seven consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, avoiding the death penalty, local news reports said.

The defendant, Todd Kohlhepp, 46, admitted to chaining a woman inside a storage shed on his rural property for two months and to a 2003 massacre of four people at a motorbike store, among other crimes, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported.

As a part of the plea deal, Kohlhepp agreed not to contest the validity of the conviction in state or federal court and gave up his right to appeal, the newspaper reported.

Lawyers for Kohlhepp and the Spartanburg County prosecutor were not immediately available for comment.

He pleaded guilty to all charges against him, which included the seven murders, kidnapping and sexual assault, the paper said.

The crimes date back to 2003 and the bodies of several of the people killed by Kohlhepp were found on his property.

How do we get another sister now – Cynthia’s brothers

The three brothers of the late Cynthia Osokogu on Friday eulogised the virtues of their murdered sister in a ceremonial burial at the family residence in Boji-Boji Owa, Ika North Local Government Area of Delta State.

Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Uchechukwu Osokogu, Cynthia’s eldest brother, described her as a good girl.

“She was the closest person to me. When we came on holidays during Christmas, New Year or burial ceremonies, she slept here in the second room,” he said pointing to a window at a corner.

“She didn’t tell me she was going to Lagos for business. But she was a good girl. She was smart and intelligent and she was in her business for long to know where to get goods. She just did what most normal girls do but fell into the wrong hands,” Kenneth said.

“She had monthly allocation from her father and me. She had her own business and did not need money. She was comfortable.

“I am the one that went to Lagos to identify her body. The police told me, according to confessions made by the suspects that she had been talking to them for four months. They told her they were in the same business, that they were retailers and would sell her goods at cheaper price. You know we have a relation in the United States who often sent her goods and these people told her they had the same goods and will sell at cheaper price. She believed them,” he said.

Cynthia’s immediate elder brother, an Assistant Superintendent of Customs, Williams Ehiedu Osokogu, described her sister as a loving and a caring lady.

Cynthia was the last born and only daughter of a family of four. Her parent’s second born, Tony Azubike Osokogu, lives in Greece.

“How do we get another sister now,” Williams Osokogu asked with tearful eyes.

Born on 10 November, 1987 in Agbor town, Cynthia started schooling at the Command Children School, Ilorin and moved to the Command Secondary School, Jos from 1997 to 2004.

She secured admission into the Nasarawa State University, Keffi between 2005 and 2009 and went for her National Youth Service Corps. She finished in 2010.

She was a graduate of English Language at the Nasarawa State University and was pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Administration while running a boutique – Dress Code in Keffi, the Nassarawa State capital at the same time.

24-year old Cynthia was murdered on 22 July in Lagos State by supposed friends she met via social media.

Use social media for development

The Delta state governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan condemned the use of social media to commit crime instead of using it as a means of development.
The governor, who was accompanied by his wife, Roli, said this when he visited the family of Frank Osokogu to condole them over the tragic death of their daughter, Cynthia.

He said the social media has been used to promote growth and development in the developed societies and lamented that some Nigerians were exploiting it negatively.

Senator Ifeanyi Okonwa and the Obi of Owa, Emmanuel Efezomor 11 and others attended the ceremonial burial.