An Orange County Superior Court judge denied Rachel Mae Buffett's motion to dismiss felony accessory to murder charges against her.
The 25-year-old was days away from marrying Daniel Patrick Wozniak in 2010 when he allegedly murdered the couple's neighbor Samuel Herr and the slain Orange Coast College student's tutor, Juri “Julie” Kibuishi of Irvine.
Judge James Stotler ruled Friday he would allow the case against Buffett to proceed because of an allegation prosecutor Matt Murphy made during a preliminary hearing that the would-be bride lied to police about Herr having family problems and other details to deflect attention from Wozniak.
She faces three felony counts of accessory to murder.
Buffett and Wozniak, 29, lived in the same Camden Martinique apartment complex near OCC as Herr. That's where Herr's father went when he could not contact his son by phone, but the dad instead found the body of 23-year-old Kibuishi, who'd been shot to death.
Costa Mesa Police originally believed 26-year-old Herr was a murder suspect, but the use of Herr's debit card in Long Beach led to a teen whom detectives later claimed had been hired by Wozniak, a community-theater actor.
Herr's torso was found in the theater at the Los Alamitos joint military base, and his head turned up in a nearby park.
The death penalty is being sought for Wozniak, who was arrested at a restaurant hosting his bachelor party.
Appearing on Dr. Phil in February, Buffett was asked by the host why she falsely told detectives that she saw a man with a black hat the night Herr was murdered and that Herr had family problems. She answered that she merely repeated to police bad information Wozniak had given her, adding, “I trusted him, and I trusted what he said was true.”
Asked why she told police she went home after appearing in a play in Fullerton with Wozniak and that they then went to sleep in their Costa Mesa apartment the night Herr was murdered, Buffett explained she could not remember exactly what she did that night and only repeated how they generally retired for the evening.
But host Phil McGraw noted Buffett sent Kibuishi a Facebook message when she was supposedly sleeping.
Buffett's family has posted ads saying she is “100 percent innocent” and a “Girl of God.”
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.