OCDA Explains New Delay in Wozniak Murder Case

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SANTA ANA — Regarding a court hearing for Daniel Wozniak that took place on May 13 in Judge John D. Conley’s courtroom, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) released the following statement:

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On Jan. 11, 2016, after less than an hour of deliberation, a jury recommended the death penalty for 32-year-old Daniel Patrick Wozniak, who was convicted of using a firearm to murder his neighbor, Samuel “Sam” Herr, for financial gain and murdering Sam Herr’s friend, Juri “Julie” Kibuishi, in an effort to derail the investigation by framing Sam Herr for the murder.

Daniel Wozniak

Daniel Wozniak

The defendant was found guilty by a jury on Dec. 16, 2015, of two felony counts of special circumstances murder with sentencing enhancements for committing multiple murders, murder for financial gain. This case was investigated by the Costa Mesa Police Department (CMPD) and is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy of the Homicide Unit. For details of this case, please visit the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) website (http://orangecountyda.org) and search for the press release titled “Jury Recommends Death Penalty for Man Convicted of Double Execution Murder of Neighbor and Neighbor’s Friend for Financial Gain.”

During the last two weeks, in light of the recently uncovered set of jail records being produced to defendant Wozniak by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) in response to third-party subpoenas served on OCSD by the defense, Judge Conley held hearings to confirm that the defense is being given all the materials to which they are entitled.

During the recent court hearings, the OCSD custodian of records testified that OCSD management and command staff knew nothing of the existence of this set of jail records, which were described in court as daily activity logs of the jail’s special handling deputies (Special Handling Logs). Correspondingly, the OCDA did not know of the existence of this set of jail records. Recently, the OCDA publicly expressed its frustration and distress regarding the recent disclosure of the existence of the Special Handling Logs.

Upon first review of the recently uncovered documents ordered by the court to be produced to the OCDA and to Wozniak, the records do not appear to be relevant to the merits of the prosecution’s case against Wozniak. From Day One, the OCDA did not utilize an informant on the Wozniak matter, nor did its investigative agency, CMPD. The OCSD has never been part of the investigative team on the Wozniak case, so there’s never been any legal obligation placed on the OCDA to produce to the Wozniak defense team those jail deputy logs records.

Furthermore, the OCDA never considered using any evidence from an informant on the Wozniak case and early on put on the record its intention to never use any such evidence. OCSD deputies, who made entries into these jail deputy logs, never testified at any court proceedings or at the jury trial in the Wozniak case.

Since learning of these records’ existence, top officials from OCDA and OCSD met regarding the jail records. In that meeting, OCDA requested that OSCD provide OCDA with a complete copy of the Special Handling Logs. OCSD promptly complied. The OCDA has now begun its review of these records to ensure that relevant entries from these logs are provided to the appropriate courts and to all defendants who are entitled by the law to such records, if there are any.

As stated in court today during a hearing on the Wozniak case, the OCDA believes that it can complete its review and legal analysis of the records by no later than June 10, 2016.

The OCDA will maintain an open conversation with OCSD about jail records. The OCDA will also continue to keep the public apprised of developments as OCDA reviews and analyzes these records and takes the appropriate legal steps to ensure that defendants entitled to these records receive them as quickly as possible, while still maintaining the need for public safety, including the security needs of jail inmates, jail staff, and individuals who provide information to the police.

Due to the revelation of the newly discovered jail records, sentencing in the Wozniak case has been postponed and the next hearings are set for May 20, 2016, and June 10, 2016, for status reports regarding the production of the jail records. It is anticipated that a new sentencing date will be set at the June 10, 2016, hearing.

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