A Santa Monica man accused of killing two women during burglaries in 2001 and 2005, and attacking a third at her home in 2008, has been ordered to stand trial on capital murder charges.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson ruled after a preliminary hearing June 30 that there was sufficient evidence to hold Michael Thomas Gargiulo, 34, for trial, said Deputy District Attorney Marna Miller, the prosecutor.
Gargiulo will stand trial on seven counts — two of murder, one of attempted murder, three of first-degree burglary with a person present and one of attempted escape, Miller said. The judge also held the defendant to answer on all allegations, including use of a knife.
The prosecutor said the judge ordered two of the three special circumstances — multiple murders and lying in wait — to stand. Johnson dismissed the special circumstance of murder during the commission of a burglary, Miller said.
A decision on whether to seek the death penalty against Gargiulo has not yet been made. The defendant is scheduled back in Johnson’s court on Wednesday, July 14 for arraignment on a new charging document that is filed by prosecutors after a defendant is held to answer at a preliminary hearing.
Gargiulo is accused of murdering Ashley Ellerin, 22, in the Hollywood Hills in 2001 and the 2005 murder of Maria Bruno, 32, in the San Gabriel Valley, district attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said. Both victims were killed at their homes.
He also is accused of the attempted murder of a woman during an April 2008 burglary and knife attack on the victim at her home in Santa Monica, Gibbons said. Gargiulo was arrested and charged in that attack in June 2008.
Police said further investigation allegedly linked him to the earlier killings and an amended complaint charging murder was filed in September 2008, Gibbons said.
The defendant was first held on $1.1 million bond after his arrest by Santa Monica police June 6, 2008. Since the capital case was filed, he has been held without bail.