Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Monica Sementilli & Robert Louis Baker, Pretrial Hearing 11


Tuesday, July 16, 2019
8:29am

I arrive on the 9th floor just in time. Judge Coen's courtroom is already open with defense and prosecutors inside. Judge Coen is off the bench, over by the clerk's desk.

The first thing I notice is, Leonard Levine and Blair Berk representing Sementilli are not here today. It is Mr. Hans J. Allhoff, an associate of Ms. Berk subbing in. I've seen him in the courtroom several times before but did not know his role. Levine and Berk must be busy with other cases.

Mr. Simmrin is by the clerk's desk, chatting with Judge Coen, who is out of his robe.

Deputy DA Melissa Opper greets three young male interns from the DA's office sitting in the front row. I believe I hear that one of them is going to Stanford. Sitting right by them on the aisle is a pretty young blond woman, also possibly an intern working with defendant Baker's counsel, Mr. Simmrin.

Deputy DA Silverman is chatting with the really nice victim's advocate representative from the DA's office. I know I've been told her name a dozen times but it escapes me at the moment.

The parties are not on the record and I hear a return date being offered and the calendar would be set at zero of 60. It's not a trial date.  Deputy DA Silverman is chatting off the record with Simmrin, something related to deposits in a bank account and a "$30,000" transaction.

There are counsel from another case in the court room and the defendant in that case is brought out. Judge Coen goes on the record. I hear Judge Coen talk about a Pitchess Motion. That hearing is over in less than two minutes.

I now overhear what the delay is about. Defenant Baker refused to come out of his cell. Simmrin says something about going to visit him down at the jail to try to circumvent a potential extraction order by the court. Judge Coen tells Simmrin that "... once they refuse [I] sign a permanent extraction order."

I hear the September 4 date again and it looks like that will probably be the return date.

Mr. Simmrin mentions that he just received new discovery today, 30 items. One item is different sets of financial records.

I miss the next bit of exchange, but then hear Deputy DA Silverman say to Mr. Simmrin, something to the effect of, This is where [we? you?] can drop the [length of the] trial down ... make some deals. She then says to Simmrin, "Well, you already know what your deal is."

Judge Coen goes on the record in the Baker/Sementilli case. Defendant Sementilli is brought out. She is in an orange jumpsuit. Her hair is very dark brown. The court puts on the record that counsel requested a return date of September 4. Mr. Simmrin agrees on that date for his client and to delay the trial 60 days from that date. Judge Coen asks defendant Sementilli if that date is acceptable and she agrees. Judge Coen then puts on the record a permanent extraction order for defendant Baker.

And that's it.

Next pretrial hearing is September 4, 2019.



Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Ten Years Ago Today, Stephanie Lazarus Arrested for Murder

June 5, 2019
Ten years ago today, Stephanie Lazarus was arrested for the murder of Sherri Rae Rasmussen.



Sunday, June 2, 2019

Michael Gargiulo Case - Opening Statements 5/2/19 Part I

May 2, 2019
Michael Gargiulo Trial - Opening Statements, Morning Session, Part I


NOTE: I was using my laptop to take notes during opening statements. I accidentally had auto-correct switched on which made it difficult to re-interpret what I had originally typed. I edited my notes from memory. This is still a rough draft with possibly more editing to be done. Sprocket

Who's Here at the Gargiulo Opening Statements
There are so many new faces from the press attending the opening that I don’t know. Here is a list in order of appearance/notice. 

CBS News is the pool reporter with a camera in the far left corner. Nathan from Courthouse News is here. The head of the court’s Public Information Office, Mary Hern is here. With Mary Hearn is Ann Donlan newly hired Communications Director for the LA County Superior Court. Ms. Donlan introduces herself and hands out her card. Terri Vermeulen Keith from City News and Carolyn Murnick, Ashely Ellerin's high school friend who wrote a book about her and Ashley’s friendship. Defense attorney Dan Nadoni is here, with his standard kerchief -navy and red today- in his suit pocket. Defense lead counsel Dale Rubin is now talking to Mary Hearn. Los Angeles Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian who I met at the Jennifer Francis civil trial is here. The prosecution team, Deputy DA’s Daniel Akemon and Garrett Dameron have now shown up. Court reporter Laurie Small and her husband Retired Detective Thomas Small who investigated the Ellen murder are in the gallery.

Local NBC 4 Patrick Healy arrives. I brief him on why this case has taken so long. More media arrive. Young clerks from DA’s office and Deputy DA’s are here. The young clerks have the blue badges and the Deputy DA’s are all wearing dark suits. At the prosecution table there is a new female assistant. I’m guessing she may handle the documents during opening statements.


Tracy from DA’s Victim Advocate unit arrives. There is a pretty black woman sitting with her. In the very back row is a handsome black reporter I don’t recognize. RHD Detective Daryn Dupree who worked the Grim Sleeper case comes in and says hello to other detectives in the gallery, then leaves. Retired LA County Sheriff’s Detective Mark Lillienfield is here saying hello to People Magazine's Christine Pelisek. Another female reporter I don’t know arrives. More reporters show up that I’ve never seen and sit in the back row. Terri and I talk new doggies. Alex from the London Sun introduces himself. The attorneys in the well from both teams have been chatting back and forth for a while now.


9:30 AM
Wendy announces to the room she is bringing the jury through in the 3rd row. This row will be empty for the jury to walk through. We are all to be quiet and remain seated. There are many older looking people on the panel.  A few middle age white males as well as Latino men and women. I don’t see a single young face. A woman with pretty dyed red hair. The jury goes back into the jury room to wait.

On the right side of the gallery behind the bailiff’s desk, the very young  interns from the DA’s office move up a row to sit with Tracy. Mr. Rubin and Detective Small are chatting in the well. So many faces in the back row I don’t know. Terri Keith is so dedicated. She is reading documents and making notes on other cases while we wait.

There are four deputies in the well now waiting for the defendant to be brought out.

Another individual that might be from the DA’s office sits with RHD Detective Greg Stearns -one of the voices in the infamous Stephanie Lazarus interview video- and another detective right beside Sterns.


Two more casually dressed women arrive and sit with Stearns in the second bench row behind the bailiff's desk. This is a light crowd. No one sitting in the front row yet and the third row is clear for the jury to walk through. More stragglers arrive. Another CBS reporter. We make room for that person in the second row.

Judge Fidler’s clerk Wendy watches everything going on in the courtroom. Dale Rubin smiles, shakes Thomas Small’s hand then sits at the defense table. Last little moments around the well of the court before the jury is brought in. Deputy DA Akemon chats with Detective Small for a moment. Dan Nardoni and Deputy DA Garrett Dameron chat quickly. Akemon and Small are still chatting.



9:43 AM
Bailiffs ask for quiet in the courtroom. Gargiulo s brought out. He looks much like I've seen him over the past several years except he's in civilian clothes today. He’s got a white goatee. Bald head. Black horn rimed glasses. I don’t notice a tie. The defendant smiles as Dan Nardoni leans in to talk to him. Nardoni rubs the defendant’s back. Gargiulo is wearing a purple shirt, dark pants.


The courtroom becomes eerily quiet. I can hear my keys type. I didn’t have time to pick up a keyboard silencer. We are now waiting on Judge Fidler. Gargiulo smiles again as he chats with defense counsel Nardoni.



9:45 AM Judge Filder Takes the Bench
Judge Fidler states someone wanted to raise an issue. All the counsel go to the bench to speak to the court. Rubin tells the court about the  “…onslaught of ABC news, … the media … I find that disturbing”



I believe Mr. Rubin continues with, “ … last in the middle of survivor a news story came on. I don’t know if we can do …. access…”

I hear DA Akemon respond, “I agree.” Judge Fidler asks, “How did they get pictures?” Nardoni responds to the court but I miss his statement.

Gargiulo leans forward, his left hand on his chin. He is intently watching the activity at the bench.

Mr. Rubin is now in a discussion with DDA’s Akemon and Dameron. I believe I hear the defense say, 'We are in the process of getting a jail [cell?] at the police department.'

Note: Sounds like something happened at the jail.  A stabbing?
 Sprocket

9:50 AM

Judge Filder tells the parties. “Ready for the jurors.”

A reporter tells me that the media got pictures from Chicago of when he was growing up.



The jury files through and takes their seats. Judge Fidler greets the jury. Judge Fidler addresses the jury about jury instructions. "Your verdict must be decided by the law and the evidence as it is provided to you.” I don’t type out the extensive jury instructions. This is something that will be provided to the jury after closing arguments.



The defendant keeps himself facing forward. He does not look over at the jury. People in the back row try to get a look at the jury.  From my viewpoint, there are five women seven men.

Note: I believe I have that correct. Sprocket

Alternates are three men and three women. Gargiulo watches Judge Fidler give the jury instructions. There are five bailiffs in the courtroom. One in the back by the entry doors and four around Gargiulo.

An individual who looks like and LAPD employee and friend enter late. They are asked to move to the fourth row. Judge Fidler asks Mr. Rubin if he wants the circumstantial evidence instruction read. Mr. Rubin indicates yes. A female detective or it’s a Deputy DA, I can't tell, enters and sits beside Detective Greg Stearns.



The jurors are ordered by the court not to post on Facebook & Twitter about the trial. Dan Nardoni, asks the court, in an abundance of caution puts forth an oral motion to exclude any an all witnesses from the gallery. Deputy DA Akemon joins that motion.


Opening Statements

And we start. Deputy DA Akemon puts up four photos on the big bulletin board. Tricia Paciccio, Ashley Ellerin, Maria Bruno and Michelle Murphy. 



Note: You can see an image of what the jury was shown HERE. Sprocket


Photos of the women, the year of the event and their age. (Paciccio 1993, Ellen 2001, Bruno 2005, Murphy 2008)

 DDA Akemon greets the jury.

The methodical and systematic slaughter of women by Michael Gargiulo, the boy next door. A killer. That’s what this case is about. Michael Gargiulo was watching. Always watching. Plotting the perfect opportunity to attack women in and around their homes.


What you will hear is … [Tricia Pacaccio] Ashley Ellerin, Michelle Murphy and Maria Bruno were all young attractive and outgoing. What these women also had in common was they all lived near Mr. Gargiulo. He had targeted them for murder and he ultimately attacked all of them with a knife.

From the onset you will learn that Gargiulo was a neighborhood kid who grew up in and around the Chicago area. He was athletic. He played high school football. He later worked as an air conditioning repairman and eventually owned his own plumbing business. And he was a husband and father. What no one knew for many years is that Michael Gargiulo was leading a double life.

He fancied himself an expert in forensic science. He attacked four women with a knife killing three of them and able to escape detection for almost 15 years.


How did he plan the attacks? The evidence will show that Gargiulo’s plan to kill was to first identify a target that lived near him. He would acquaint himself with that victim, their lives and routines. The evidence will show he stalked and hunted down the victim relentlessly … to plan his kill.

He watched and waited and collected real time intelligence on the victims. He then manipulated the circumstances to pounce and kill in a blitz type knife attack and then escape detection.

His killing spree ended in 2008 when he accidentally cut himself during one of the attacks and he bled all over the victim’s bedspread and sheets.

You will hear that his killing spree started in Chicago in summer of 1993 almost 26 year ago.

He killed his first victim 18 year old Tricia Pacaccio, who lived in Glenview, Illinois, an affluent neighborhood. Gargiulo lived around the corner [from her].

Friday August 13, of 1993. It was hot and muggy in Glenview and a thick fog settled over the area. Tricia Pacaccio ended her Friday at TGI Fridays. Tricia and her friends had just all graduated and were bidding each other a final farewell and heading off in different directions to college.

Tricia was bound off to Purdue University and had earned an engineering scholarship. For Tricia it was the summer of her life and the end of a perfect evening with friends. What she didn’t know is that Gargiulo who lived around the corner had targeted Tricia for murder.

She would never make it to college and the summer of 1993 would be her last. On the night that Tricia was killed she gave several friends a ride home after leaving TGI Fridays. She dropped her last passenger off a little after 1 am and walked up to her door, keys in hand but never made it inside.

Gargiulo was waiting for her. Gargiulo, who was experienced in marital arts, snapped her arm and stabbed her in the breast and chest. He left her bleeding on the doorstep of her home and fled. Tricia’s father found her the next morning.


Years later Gargiulo bragged to friends about killing Tricia. “ I left the bitch on the steps for dead.” Gargiulo’s DNA was found on Tricia’s fingernails. As detectives worked to solved the case, Gargiulo moved across the country and took up residence near Ashley Ellerin. Ashley was young and social with the Hollywood crowd. She soon attracted Gargiulo’s attention.

He frequented the dog park across the street from her house and injected himself into Ashely’s life. He offered to change a tire. Then offered to fix a furnace. He then showed up unannounced. A friend saw him staring up into the house at odd hours. Shortly before she was killed he crashed a party at their house. He obtained a key somehow and got inside and scared her. One of her friends concluded that he was stalking Ashely and she should be concerned.

One day he appeared unannounced and her roommate [was there?]. Gargiulo told the roommate that the FBI was pursuing him for a murder from Chicago. He showed the roommate a knife in a sheath (in his ankle).

Feb 21, 2001. Ashley was found stabbed to death [the next morning] in her hallway. She was stabbed over 47 times.

The evidence will show that the defendant attacked Ashley from behind, cutting through from right to left nearly decapitating her, indicating an attack from a left handed perpetrator. Gargiulo is left handed. The attack on Ashley shared several characteristics with [the attacks on] Tricia Pacaccio, Maria Bruno and Michell Murphy.

Gargiulo moved away to another city.

[In El Monte] Gargiulo entered Maria Bruno's apartment, put on blue surgical boots and murdered Maria while she slept. He stabbed her multiple times and gashed out her throat. Cut off her breasts and attempted to remove her breast implants and placed one of her breasts in her mouth.

Maria Bruno’s murder shared several similar events as the other victims. Gargiulo lived in the very same complex [as Bruno] and [from his upper floor unit] could see into her very own living room. Gargiulo attempted to inject himself in the victims life. He surveilled the victim in her home.

A witness saw someone matching his description watching the victim, staring. And also entered her apartment uninvited. Gargiulo left his DNA at the crime scene.

Afterwards, Maria’s husband discovered her body and called police. [Detectives] located a surgical bootie outside Maria’s front door. Analyst discovered there were drops of Maria’s blood on the booties. Gargiulo’s DNA was found around the elastic band. Years later, the matching bootie was found in Gargiulo’s apartment attic [space].

While that case was under investigation, Gargiulo moved to Santa Monica, and moved into an apartment across the alley from Michelle Murphy. Again, Gargiulo lived near the victim in an apartment directly across the alley where he was able to see into her apartment and see her movements.

April 20, 2008, at approximately 8 pm, Michelle Murphy went to bed. She was alone. Her roommate was out of the country. It was a warm evening, and she left a window open.

He climbed onto the railing, sliced through the screen with knife and climbed through the window. He found Michelle sleeping in her bed.

Gargiulo learned over her and stabbed her in the chest with a knife.

Michelle woke up and fought with Gargiulo as he stabbed repeatedly, stabbing her hands and arms as she defended herself. Michele who was very athletic in her own right was able to get her legs [underneath?] her. She was able to kick Gargiulo causing him to cut his own wrist.
Bleeding profusely, he ran out the door and said “I’m sorry.” He left a blood trail out the alley.

Gargiulo’s blood was on Michelle’s bedspread and sheet combined with Michelle’s blood. He left his DNA at the crime scene. When Gargiulo’s DNA was found on her bedspread and sheet it linked him with DNA on Tricia Pacaccio’s fingernails and the bloody booties from Maria [Bruno’s murder].


Gargiulo was arrested in June of 2008. When Gargiulo was held in the El Monte jail, he made makeshift handcuff keys, planned to attack a jailer, steal a police car and escape to Mexico.

Now back to the details of each stabbing. It all started in Glenview, Illinois in the Summer of 1993. What you seeing on the screen are the four women.

Tricia was 18 years old.
Ashes was 22.
Maria was 32.
Murphy was age 26 when she was attacked.

Chronology
It started on the doorstep around the corner from Gargiulo’s residence. He told one friend, “I actually left the bitch on the steps for dead.” Gargiulo’s DNA was on Tricia Pacaccio’s fingernails.

In 2001 Ashley Ellerin was stabbed to death in Hollywood. He entered Ashley’a house without permission.

In 2005 Maria Bruno was stabbed to death inside her residence. Gargiulo lived across the pool from Ms. Bruno’s residence. The bootie found outside her door had his DNA on it.

In 2008 Michelle lived across the alley.  Gargiulo left a blood trial across the alley. In 2008 Gargiulo was arrested and tried to escape from jail.

Tricia Pacaccio Murder
A photo of Tricia is put up on the screen. Then a photo of Tricia’s home in Glenview. Deputy DA Akemon points out Tricia’s bedroom on the second floor. He points out the door where she was stabbed outside of her home. The photo shows her car was parked in the driveway.

DDA Akemon now presents an aerial photo of Gargiulo’s home area. Gargiulo’s and Tricia’s home are 550 feet apart on the diagonal. He tells the jury that each victim lived within eye-shot and ear shot. Now we are shown a photo of Gargiulo’s residence in 1993. He lived there with brothers and sisters and mom and dad.

Deputy DA Akemon explains the event that Tricia participated in right before she was murdered, a road rally. Up on the screen there are about 40 names, to show the jury about how many kids were involved. These are the students who participated in the road rally roster. About 40 people attended. Deputy DA Akemon explains that it was like a treasure hunt.

Next is a photo of the TGI Fridays where Tricia’s group ended up that evening. August 13 going over into the 14th, 1993.

August 13, Tricia’s group arrived at TGI Fridays. Gargiulo was dropped off at home 12:30 am. At 1 am Tricia dropped off her friend. She arrived home around 1:15am.

In 1997 Gargiulo told a friend, “I stabbed up a girl.” He told another friend, “I stabbed up the bitch.”

 In 2002 Gargiulo’s DNA  matched up to the DNA found on Tricia Pacaccio.

Deputy DA Akemon explains that Gargiulo is not charged with Tricia’s murder in California. The presentation is used for special evidence even though the jury will not decide guilt or innocence in that case.

Next on the screen are photos of most of the people who attended the road rally that night. About 40 of them. Of those 40 people, many were people that Tricia had contact with that evening. None of those people’s DNA was found on Tricia.

Now the jury is shown photos of Tricia Pacaccio’s crime scene. Tricia’s car, a blue Buick is in the driveway. She parked her car, walked across the law to the side door of the residence and then [would have] headed to her bedroom.

Photo of crime scene, outside of house, August 14, 1993. Tricia's body is located at the face of that white door. Now a photo of Tricia’s body on the doorstep. Her feet on the lower step, her head is closer to the door. We are shown another view of her body on the doorstep then a closer view of her on the doorstep. It is so sad. She was so close to getting inside. At the upper part of the door is Tricia’s pocketbook, and near her head are her car keys. Another photo that shows the keys at the top of her head.


Coroner’s Evidence
Tricia was stabbed 12 times and she had a spiral fracture of the left arm.

Deputy DA Akemon details each wound and where they were located on her body. Shows photos of the wounds. Many stab wounds to the left arm. X-ray’s of Tricia’s left arm that show the spiral fracture. X-ray clearly shows it snapped.

What you will hear in this case, when Tricia Pacaccio’s body was taken to the morgue in Chicago, somebody, some person, tampered with her clothing. Another photo. What you looking at here are photos of Tricia’s body in the morgue, when she was transported to the morgue she was fully clothed.

And [also] and at the scene her hands were bagged at the scene. When they did the post mortem they noticed her clothing had been manipulated. That’s when a coroner’s investigators said that’s not the way she was [when she was brought into the morgue].  Somebody, it was never determined who, pulled her panties down and also pulled her t-shirt over her breasts. There’s no evidence that she was sexually assaulted, or the bags on her hands were tampered with, only her clothing was tampered with. Through the photos, we can see that the bags are still on Tricia’s hands in photos.

There will be DNA evidence in this case. A DNA expert tested [her] fingernails. Compared them to Gargiulo. A DNA match [came back], one in 97 million. No other DNA found on her fingernails. Only her own DNA.

People who attended the road rally. Gargiulo did not attend the road rally. There were [people] hugging and kissing that evening saying goodbye. Despite all those people having contact with Tricia that night, the only person whose DNA shows up on her fingernails is Michael Gargiulo.

Photo of a DNA evidence table. Expert will give an opinion. The DNA is a match and that will explain the DNA.


This is to Tricia Pacaccio’s case. Her brother Tom discovered her body with other family members. [Gargiulo] was not a friend of Tricia. [They] did not have any sort of relationship. He was a friend of Tricia’s brother. Gargiulo was 17 and lived around the corner. Tricia’s mother [will testify]. There was no reason for her to have contact with Gargiulo.

Doug was Tricia’s younger brother. This was Gargiulo’s friend. He will testify that he was friend of Gargiulo. There was no reason for Tricia to have any contact, physical contact with Gargiulo. What you will hear that night Tricia had [upset?] Rick Pacaccio [her father]. She took a long shower that night. She was very clean. She had an argument with her father for taking such a long shower. There’s no reason for her to have physical contact with Gargiulo.

[You will hear from] Andrew [Crouch?], Jennifer Spanjer, and [Karen?] Isenberg, Tricia’s friends. Tricia had physical contact with her friends. Very touchy feely. Gargiulo was not present at the [road rally].

You will hear from Gargiulo’s ex-girlfriend. On the night of Tricia’s murder, she was with Mr. Gargiulo. She dropped him off at [12:30 am? 1 am?] around the corner from Tricia’s residence before the stabbing. That was to show that he was in a position … No physical contact between Tricia and Gargiulo that night.

The Anarchist Cookbook
Next slide is up on the screen.

About 10:55 am, Judge Fidler calls for a break.

At the break, several reporters that are in the hallway, watching the cable feed and are asking for the attorneys to be identified for their reporting.

11:12 am
Judge Fidler’s clerk, Wendy, call’s for the jury. A sheriff’s deputy informs the courtroom that at the lunch break everyone [in the gallery] is to remain seated until all the jurors have left then you may go.

11:13 am
The Jury comes out then Judge Fidler comes out.

Deputy DA Akemon continues his presentation. What you will hear in this case, one of Gargiulo’s [friends] Suzanne [will testify] that Mr. Gargiulo liked this book [The Anarchist Cookbook] and he talked about this book. And he talks about what’s in there. This book talks about knives. There is a section for, there’s a section on knives. And how to use a knife on various sections of the body. Cuts to the throat, subclavian area. A key to this type of attack is the speed and silent [method] … based on approaching the enemy from behind …

Prosecutor Akemon mentions that there is no evidence of sexual assault with the victims in this case and the DNA matching.


Prosecutor Akemon mentions a former friend of Gargiulo’s, Anthony [?] who worked with Gargiulo as a bouncer at the Rainbow Room Bar in Hollywood in the 1990’s. I believe he presents a photo of them together at a party. This witness had a prior criminal history for theft and drug offenses. He [this witness] was the one that Gargiulo said this is from a [prior incident?]. Gargiulo told his friend, “I actually left the bitch on the steps for dead.”

Deputy DA Akemon puts up a photo of Tricia where she was found on her doorstep.

Temer Leary, another friend of Gargiulo’s. He also worked with Garigulo as a bouncer at the Rainbow Room Bar in Hollywood the 1990’s. He has a prior criminal record including violent offenses. Mr. Gargiulo told him that he “he stabbed up the girl” referring to Ms. Pacaccio.

These former friends of Gargiulo’s saw Gargiulo on television accused of the Pacaccio murder. When they saw that they were shocked per [their] girlfriends. They had one of those moments of watching Gargiuo on TV. When they found what they knew was relevant they texted to each other about being heroes.

Ashley Ellerin Case

Photos of Ashley are up on the screen. Ms. Ellerin was 22 when Gargiulo stabbed her to death. A Photo of Ellerin’s residence on Pinehurst Road in Hollywood. Photos of the house gated and a red car in front. Now an aerial view of the area showing where various things are.

When Ms. Ellerin was stabbed to death he [Gargiulo] lived in Hollywood at his building there [points to photo] and Ashely lived right down the street, about 400 feet down the street.

Across the street from Ms. Ellerin is the dog park. And Gargiulo frequented the dog park and Gargiulo would watch from that park.

Deputy DA Akemon will tells the jury they will go to a site visit and see the particular scenes so you can see the geography yourself and these particular scenes you will be able to see this house.

1759 Orchid Ave was Gargiulo’s apartment building. Showing a type of aerial view from the top of that building and you can see Ellerin’s house off in the distance. The roof of Gargiulo’s building is open to the tenant’s. And her bedroom is on that side of the house. You can see if the light is on or off from the roof of Gargiulo's building.

Pointing out on a photo, this is the dog park. Right across from Ellerin’s residence.

Now a view of what her home looked like from the dog park at night. But when the house was lit up inside you can see what was going on inside. And we show this to show that Mr. Garguilo was watching all the time. Pointing out on a photo, here is the front door to Ellerin’s home. Now a floor plan of Ellerin’s residence.

Older style bungalow home and the floor plan is older. The prosecutor explains where the front door is, the sun room. We’ll explain that when Ashton Kutcher came over and which window that he looked into the house.

Her bedroom is in the upper left hand corner. She just exited the shower and was getting ready to go out with Mr. Kutcher when she was attacked from behind. Identifies the other rooms on the photo. Points out the layout and the rooms and the windows that Kutcher looks into.

February 21, 2001. Ashley drops her father off at the airport. Between 7 and 8 pm her friend Durbin came over and they had sex. Then he left and she locked the door. At 8:24 pm Ashley talked to Ashton Kutcher on the phone with a plan to go out that night.

A man, Mr. Todd Jackson, around 8:30 to 9 pm heard screaming from her house. He was walking his dog in the dog park. 



Between 9 and 9:20 pm Mr. Durbin called her three times but Ashely did not answer. 


10 pm another friend called. 

10:15 pm Ashton Kutcher called and got no inswer.

10:15 pm Ashley’s roommate was locked out of the house.
10:45 pm Ashton Kutcher arrives, knocks on the door and looked inside and saw what he thought was spilled wine on the floor.

On the following day, 9:15 am Jennifer Disisto discovered her body.

Up on the screen is a photo of Ashley on her back, on leg splayed out her finger pointed toward her leg. Again, seeing Ashely is quite sad. There was a very violent struggle in this small space. Ashley was stabbed 47 times.

More crime scene floor plans of the house are presented. Now a view of the front door to the house. Explains layout and relation as to where her body is in this photo. Ashley’s body is inside the red circle in the photo. New photo showing the angle from her bedroom, her feet toward the bathroom door. 

The most severe injury to the neck area. She was nearly decapitated.

Dr. Ortiz [performed the autopsy]. He will give the opinion this is from a left to right cut so a left handed person. Bloody footprints and blood drops. Criminalist Steve Schliebe will testify to what the blood drops and the footprints mean. What we believe is the path he took to get out of the house.

Coroner Evidence
Stabbed 47 times. Overview of the injuries are presented. The first stab wounds were to her head. Many to her head first. Deputy DA Akemon goes over each stab wound and what area of the body they went through.
The coroner will testify that this stab wound on her neck nearly decapitated her body. More stab wounds are presented to the jury.


In the coroner’s photos, you can see her head was shaved to get a better photo of her stab wounds. Now describing wounds 28-30, wounds to her neck. Stab wounds 36-38 to the left hand, defense wounds. Stab wounds 39 40 are right hand defense wounds. More stab wounds to the hands. All defense wounds.

Deputy DA Akemon tells the jury about witnesses they will hear from in Ashley's case.

A photo from a party is shown. Ashely and her friends standing with her. Justin Peterson was her room mate. And this is Jennifer Disisto who discovered Ashley’s body. And Justin came face to face with Mr. Gargiulo.

It was during this party when Gargiulo was fixated with on Ms. Ellerin.
 There in the back of a photo, appears to be Gargiulo at this party..

This woman who was the party was for, will testify about the photos. Justin Peterson was Ashley’s friend. At social gatherings Gargiulo was watching Ashley.

Just Peterson, identified Mr Gargiulo as the man he saw outside of Ms. Ellerin’s house out in the middle of the night watching Ms. Ellerin’s home. Mr. Gargiulo was hanging out in this green truck, sitting in the truck and watching the house. Justin Peterson will testify that Gargiulo flashed a knife and Peterson drew [a sketch of] the knife he saw.

Mark Durbin,. Mr. Durbin was Ashley’s friend and landlord. He had sex with Ashley the night of the stabbing. He left her residence at 8:15 pm. He had to be home by 8:30 to meet his girlfriend. He called Ashley at 9 and 9:15 pm and she did not answer. Because he had sex with her he was initially looked at.


Ashton Kutcher, Ashley’s friend called at 10:45 pm. Mr. Kushner is called to testify to show there was a very narrow opportunity in this case.


Jennier Disisto. Ashley friend and roommate. She came home at 10:15 pm. The door was locked and she didn’t have her keys. She left and stayed the night with a friend. She came home the next day and discovered her body.


Anthony Castellane, Ashely’s friend.  He attended a party at Ashley’s residence. Gargiulo shows up uninvited and was the last guest to leave. Gargiulo fixated on Ashley. Anthony decided to stay and sleep on the sofa he was so concerned.

Monica Grandy. Will testify Gargiulo was fixated on Ashely. Weeks before Ashley was stabbed to death Gargiulo came into the apartment, [somehow] obtained a key, surprised her and Ashley and ran away.

Todd Jackson. Walked his dog in the dog park. Heard a scream from Ashley’s residence.

Witness Steve Schliebe, LA County Sheriff’s blood spatter expert. [I know Steve. He’s an excellent criminalist. Sprocket] Will testify blood drops are oriented to the door meaning the blood will go out that door. Gargiulo headed out that door. A line of blood drops to the left of the foot prints.


Maria Bruno Murder
She was 32 years old when Gargiulo mutilated her. Photos of Bruno’s residence. Deputy DA Akemon tells the jury they will go out to the residence and see the relationship between Ms. Bruno’s apartment and Gargiulo’s. And just to the left is the kitchen window and that’s the point of entry.

A photo view of Gargiulo’s and Ms. Bruno’s apartments in Arden apartment complex. Gargiulo’s apartment was 20 feet away across the pool. From his living room he could look right down into Ms. Bruno’s apartment. Another photo view showing her apartment looking up to Gargiulo’s apartment. This is the view Gargiulo had of Ms. Bruno’s apartment. Deputy DA Akemon points out in the image the point of entry, the kitchen window.

Cronology of the night of Ms. Bruno’s Murder

November 23, 2005, she was moved into the apartment complex. She moved there because she believed it was a very secure apartment building.

December 1, 2005, at 11:30 pm her and estranged husband left for a date. Maria and her husband Irving went out, they were drinking heavily, and then came back to the apartment and had sex.

The evidence will so that as soon as Irving left, Mr. Gargiulo entered her apartment. Since they had been drinking her husband drove her home and came back the next day to take her back to her job.

Her husband Irving climbed into her window to wake Maria up. He found her body and called 911. 

The prosecution plays the 911 call for the jury. He’s sobbing on the 911 recording.

“Someone broke into my wife’s house and they killed her.”



One of her nipples was placed over her mouth. 



Gargiulo turns toward Mr. Nardoni and leans in to talk to him. 

Crime Scene photos of Maria’s body. There are parts muted out of the photos. A photo of Maria’s body on the bed. DDA Akemon flashes through a series of photos before shutting down the presentation. Now Gargiulo is leaning in to speak to Mr. Rubin and Mr. Nardoni.

At 11:55 am Judge Fidler excuses the jury for the lunch break.


To be continued in Part II….


LINKS
Images from Opening Statements
Images from ShutterStock


Courthouse News Story on Opening
Local ABC 7 Story
People Magazine Story
Local NBC 4 Story

NY Daily News
Zimbo Photos