After convicting Daniel Wozniak of a wild, 2010 double murder in late December, an Orange County jury this week recommended the 31-year-old, former community theater actor be sent to San Quentin State Prison's death row for eventual execution, but a mystery lingers.
Is Wozniak solely responsible for the grisly killings of Orange Coast College students Samuel Herr, 26, and Juri "Julie" Kibuishi, 23?
Or did Rachel Buffett, Wozniak's fiancee at the time of the crimes, play a mastermind role that slyly managed to escape the case facing only accessory after the fact charges for repeatedly lying to Costa Mesa police detectives?
Dateline NBC tonight plans to broadcast "Plot Twist," its coverage of the controversy, including veteran correspondent Josh Mankiewicz's sensational interviews with Buffett, relatives of the victims and detectives.
Asked by Mankiewicz if she helped plan the killings, Buffett called such speculation "bull."
But Scott Sanders, Wozniak's attorney, claimed in court that Buffett, another actor, cleverly manipulated his client into killing for supposedly quick cash by enticing him into a financial panic involving a fabricated tale about violent loan sharks in his pursuit.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy, who is prosecuting her on the lesser charges, most recently claimed he doesn't have the evidence to prove she too is guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt, though police detectives have their suspicions.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Superior Court Judge John D. Conley is scheduled to consider the jury's death penalty recommendation as Wozniak's punishment on March 11 inside Orange County's central courthouse in Santa Ana.