SANTA ANA – The ex-fiancée of a man who was sentenced to the death penalty for the double execution-style murder of his neighbor and neighbor’s friend for financial gain has been convicted as an accessory to murder after the fact.
Rachel Mae Buffett, 31, of Costa Mesa was found guilty on two felony counts by a jury on Sept. 12 after about a day of deliberation and will be sentenced on Oct. 8. She faces up to three years and eight months in state prison.
Orange County Superior Judge Sheila Hanson ordered Buffett jailed immediately.
In 2010, Buffett was engaged to 28-year-old Daniel Patrick Wozniak. The two were planning to marry May 28, 2010 in Long Beach, a week after the murders of 26-year-old Samuel Herr and Herr’s friend, 23-year-old Juri “Julie” Kibuishi.
On May 3, 2012, Wozniak was indicted by the Orange County Grand Jury and charged with two felony counts of special circumstances murder with sentencing enhancements, including multiple murders, murder for financial gain, and the personal discharge of a firearm causing death.
On Dec. 16, 2015, he was convicted by a jury, who recommended death, and on Sept. 23, 2016 was sentenced to the death penalty.
Several times in May and June 2010, Buffett lied to Costa Mesa Police Department officers, the prosecution said. She was convicted for lying to police throughout the investigation in an attempt to protect Wozniak.
“We’re deeply grateful for the hard work of the jurors,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy. “They did exactly the right thing.”
Prosecutors and the defendant and her attorney discussed a plea bargain, but could not close a deal.
Buffett’s attorney, David Medina, told jurors that his client was “a star witness” who gave investigators “boatloads of damning evidence” and got Wozniak to confess to the crime when he called her from his jail cell.
Wozniak’s brother, Tim, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact in 2016.
City News Service contributed to this story.