Judge Denies Motion to Dismiss Death Penalty as Possible Fate for Daniel Wozniak: Update

Daniel Patrick Wozniak allegedly killed two to pay for his wedding and honeymoon.
Daniel Patrick Wozniak allegedly killed two to pay for his wedding and honeymoon.
Costa Mesa Police Department

UPDATE, OCT. 30, 3:06 P.M.: More setbacks for the defense of community theater actor-turned-accused double murderer Daniel Patrick Wozniak, as Orange County Superior Court Judge John Conley denied Assistant Public Defender Scott Simmons' motions to dismiss the death penalty and to continue the trial, clearing the way for jury selection to begin next month.

Defense Lawyer On Two Death Penalty Cases Seeks Recusal Of All OC Prosecutors, Judges

ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 28, 6:05 A.M.: A state appeals court on Tuesday dealt legal setbacks to the attorney attempting a you're-out-of-order; the-whole-system's-out-of-order defense in the death penalty case against community theater actor-turned-accused double murderer Daniel Patrick Wozniak. Then the judge that Scott Sanders tried to get removed from the case denied the assistant public defender's attempt to get the district attorney's office bounced as well.

First, the Fourth District Court of Appeals denied Sanders' request to get Orange County Superior Court Judge John Conley kicked off the case and a second plea to force Conley and fellow judge Walter Schwarm to testify at a special hearing on governmental misconduct allegations in the use of jailhouse informants in the capital case.

As R. Scott Moxley has tirelessly reported for the Weekly, Sanders has made hay with evidence of corruption in the use of informants going back to the 1980s by the Orange County District Attorney's office and the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

A different judge entertained the motion for an evidentiary hearing in another high profile death penalty case Sanders is defending. That led to a ruling preventing the OCDA from prosecuting Scott Dekraai, the confessed worst mass killer in Orange County history, in favor of the state Attorney General's office. The AG and the OCDA have appealed.

Despite being unable to get former prosecutor Conley removed as a judge or put on the witness stand, Sanders formally asked the jurist for another evidentiary hearing on allegations of sheriff's department misconduct, specifically that deputies who work the jail holding Wozniak illegally put an informant in his cell after the defendant lawyered up.

Veteran homicide prosecutor Matt Murphy has said repeatedly he is not using any information that informant collected from Wozniak.

Conley, saying Sanders keeps "circling back" with the same issues that have already been dispensed with, denied defense requests for evidence from cases involving the use of jailhouse informants dating back to the '80s and to have the OCDA removed from Wozniak's trial that is scheduled to begin Friday.

Still on Conley's plate are Sanders' motions to have the death penalty removed as a possible punishment for Wozniak due to outrageous government misconduct and the evidentiary hearing request that, if granted, would further push back the trial's start date.

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That day can't come soon enough for Samuel Herr's father, who has nearly blown a gasket in courthouse hallways waiting for justice in his son's May 2010 slaying, dismemberment and beheading.

Prosecutors allege Wozniak tried to pay for his pending nuptials by slowly draining money from his "friend" Herr's bank account. First, Wozniak allegedly lured the Middle East war veteran to the Los Alamitos Joint Forces military base, where Herr was murdered. Wozniak is next accused of using Herr's cell phone to pose as the dead man, text another friend Juri Kibuishi into going to Herr's Costa Mesa apartment and then shooting her to make it appear Herr killed her during a sexual assault before fleeing the scene.

Wozniak allegedly returned to the base to dismember Herr's body, dumping the head in a nearby park's trash receptacle. He was arrested after a teen who used Herr's ATM card was swopped down upon by police and then pointed cops to Wozniak as the man who paid him to make the withdrawal.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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