Will California reinstate death penalty? 'Hollywood Ripper' Michael Gargiulo sentenced to death
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Michael Thomas Gargiulo who has been dubbed the 'Hollywood Ripper' was found guilty of first-degree murder of two women and attempted murder of a third in August 2019. He was sentenced to death on July 16 in Los Angeles, California, almost two years after he was convicted of murder. However, details of how he will be executed are yet to be decided. The last execution in the state of California was in 2006 and governor Gavin Newsom banned the practice altogether in 2019. So there's a long way to go before Gargiulo walks towards the gallows.
No one could've thought Gargiulo would one day be accused of committing atrocious crimes and killing multiple women violently. He was a star athlete at Glenbrook South High School in Illinois where he was the most popular amongst all of his friends in the late '80s. However, Gargiulo began exhibiting violent and criminal tendencies early on in his life and was arrested a couple of times once for a battery charge in 1996 and an incident of breaking into a car. However, these were not the only crimes he committed. He brutally killed three women between 1993 to 2005 and attempted to kill Michelle Murphy in 2008 but she fought back resulting in Gargiulo fleeing the scene but not without leaving his DNA all over the place. On checking their old records, police found a match from the 1993 cold murder case - the DNA was Gargiulo's who was living a double life with a wife and kids.
Gargiulo was sentenced to death in 2019 by a jury but his defense fought back against the sentencing. Fast forward to July 16 when the Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler sentenced him to death. He called Gargiulo's crimes "vicious and frightening" before handing out the life sentence for the attempted murder of Murphy. Later on, Fidler said, "you shall be put to death in the State Penitentiary at San Quentin, California" for the murders of his first two victims Tricia Pacaccio and Ashley Ellerin. According to a report, Gargiulo slouched in his chair and showed no reaction when he was handed out the death sentence.
"Every time he's in the neighborhood, somebody dies. Everywhere he goes, mayhem and terror follow," Judge Fidler said adding that everywhere Gargiulo goes "death and destruction follow." Gargiulo defied his attorneys' advice and asked to address the court. Upon being permitted by Fidler, Gargiulo complained he was being denied his fundamental right to testify. "I’m going to death row wrongfully and unjustly. I’m innocent - I’ve been framed by tunnel-vision detectives. I wanted to tell the jury I was innocent. I wasn’t allowed to do that. I was hushed up," he said. His defense argued he was being convicted despite "insufficient evidence" from prosecution but Fidler said was "plenty" as he lived close to all his victims. Fidler also denied the defense's request for a new trial.
Will California reinstate the death penalty?
In March 2019, governor Gavin Newsom announced a temporary prohibition on capital punishment providing reprieve to 737 inmates on death row. “I know people think eye for eye, but if you rape, we don’t rape. And I think if someone kills, we don’t kill. We’re better than that," Newsom said. He continued, “I cannot sign off on executing hundreds and hundreds of human beings, knowing — knowing — that among them will be innocent human beings.” According to New York Times, capital punishment has been on a decline for the past two decades. Newsom's announcement didn't sit well with a lot of political bigwigs including then-President Donald Trump.
“Defying voters, the Governor of California will halt all death penalty executions of 737 stone-cold killers. Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!” he tweeted. Coming back to Gargiulo's case, he has been sentenced to death to death but he is not scheduled to walk towards the gallows anytime soon, not until Newsom's order is reversed which does not appear to be the case anytime soon.