LOS ANGELES -- Actor Ashton Kutcher was the star witness Wednesday morning in the murder trial of Michael Gargiulo, who is accused of killing the actor's friend Ashley Ellerin, and two other women.
Kutcher appeared in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom to testify about the last time he spoke with Ellerin, who ended up killed the night the two were supposed to have their first date.
Wearing a blue suit and sporting a mustache, Kutcher testified for about 40 minutes. The prosecution wanted to establish a timeline for Ellerin's murder.
Kutcher said he and Ellerin were friends; they met about two months before her death at a friend's birthday party. He introduced her to one of his friends, and they started dating. Kutcher had a girlfriend at the time, he said.
He went to her house one time before the day she was killed, attending a house-warming party, Kutcher testified. He said Ellerin told him during that party she was single, but he still had a girlfriend.
Kutcher told the jury he spoke with Ellerin on Feb. 21, 2001 on the phone at about 3 or 4 p.m. He had just finished a show run-through. During the call, they made plans to go out and get a drink that night, he said. He called back later that evening, around 7:30 p.m., to tell Ellerin he was running late but got her answering machine.
At 8:24 p.m., Kutcher said he called Ellerin one more time and told her he was running late due to watching the Grammys at a friend's house. He recalled Ellerin, who said she had just gotten out of the shower and was blow drying her hair. This was the last time the two spoke.
He testified he knows the exact time he called Ellerin because he looked over the police report he gave the day after the murder, and he remembers having a Nextel cellphone and telling detectives about the time he called and the call log.
Kutcher said he tried to call Ellerin again later that night, but she never answered. He testified he lost track of time, left his friend's house around 10 p.m. and called to let her know he was on his way.
The actor testified it was a 15-minute drive from his friend's house to Ellerin's house. He called her again while he was driving, but she did not answer. Kutcher then went to his own house and let his dogs out and called her one more time. She did not answer.
Around 10:45 p.m., Kutcher said he left his house to go to her place, which was about five to six blocks away. He said he tried to call her several times, but she never answered. He was trying to take her on a date and didn't want to seem overeager, a flustered Kutcher told the jury.
Kutcher said he pulled his car up to Ellerin's driveway and went up the stairs to her front door. The gate was open. He said the lights were on in the house, so he assumed she was home. He knocked on the door, but no answer. He knocked again, and no answer. He testified he then looked through the window on the front door and didn't see anything. He said he assumed she was upset with him and bailed because he was late.
Kutcher told the jury he tried to open the door, but it was locked. Then he started to leave and looked through the window to the left of the front door. He thought it was odd the lights were on and Ellerin had left, he said. It looked like the place was a mess, he testified, but he knew she had recently moved in, so he didn't think it was odd.
The actor said he thought he saw red wine spilled on the carpet. He didn't think much of it because he went to the housewarming party the week before and thought someone must have spilled the drink on the floor.
The prosecutor says the red stain on the carpet was actually Ellerin's blood.
Eventually, Kutcher said he left, got in his car and went home. He testified he thought he messed up and Ellerin was mad at him. He said he does not recall seeing anyone at the house or anything odd when he was there.
He told the jury he freaked out when he heard about the murder and told police his fingerprints were on the door. He wanted to make sure he was not a suspect.
Gargiulo is accused of murdering Ellerin and two other women. The prosecutor contends Gargiulo killed Ellerin by stabbing her 47 times while she was getting ready to go out with Kutcher. Gargiulo is facing the death penalty if convicted of all charges. The trial began in the first week of May and is expected to last six months, with the prosecution calling about 250 witnesses to the stand.
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