Killer awaits sentencing for murder of LAHS grad

The convicted killer of two women, including a 1996 Los Altos High School graduate, awaits sentencing after being found guilty Aug. 15 in the stabbing deaths and the attempted murder of a third woman.

Jurors also ruled Thursday that serial killer Michael Gargiulo was sane when he committed the brutal home-invasion crimes.

Deputy District Attorney Garrett Dameron, who is prosecuting the case, said the death penalty “is still an option.” The penalty phase is set to begin Sept. 9.

“Depending on what the jury recommends, the judge sets a sentencing date sometime after the jury’s recommendation,” Dameron said Friday.

In 2001, Gargiulo killed Ashley Ellerin, who grew up in Los Altos and also attended Foothill College. Gargiulo struck again in 2005, killing Maria Bruno.

He attempted to kill Michelle Murphy in 2008, but she managed to fight him off. Her struggle prompted Gargiulo to cut himself with his own weapon, leaving a trail of blood that proved vital in leading to his arrest that same year.

Gargiulo also faces extradition to Illinois to stand trial for the 1993 murder of another woman, Tricia Pacaccio.

Los Altos resident Michael Ellerin, Ashley’s father, was in court for the Aug. 15 verdict. A community volunteer who served on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, Ellerin announced to friends in April he was “withdrawing from public service” to attend the trial.

Ellerin, who has been silent publicly about the case, did not respond to a Town Crier email and phone call seeking comment.

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