Guilty – Part Two

Hello dear readers. First, let me apologize for taking so long to get another post out. I’m sure some of you were worried that I’ve lost interest in Daniel and this story. Maybe even hoping (I’m looking at you, fake Matt Murphy).

Nope. A LOT has been happening the past couple of weeks – including Christmas. But I’m back, so let’s talk trial! Murderer Musings TV Lawyer MMTVL is back on the case.

It’s an emotional experience, being in that courtroom. The sadness and anger coming from the victims’ families is palpable. Many supporters show up for both Julie and Sam every day: mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, all there to see that justice is done for their loved ones.

Daniel Wozniak has me.

I’m not his only supporter, but I’m the only one who didn’t heed his wish that we not come to the trial. I’m stubborn. I want to get as much of the story as possible.

He’s okay with it now.

Now, before any trolls go crazy in my comment section, when I say “supporter,” I mean someone who is Daniel’s friend.  He has been found guilty of some insanely horrible crimes.  I do not support them.  This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop being his friend.  Let’s be honest, I always figured he’d be found guilty.  He never claimed to be an innocent man.

Day Two

I had trouble finding a seat on day one of the trial, so I decided I better get to the courthouse super early on day two.

Guess what? NOT necessary.

First off, there was no one on the eighth floor when I arrived at about 8:15 am. I probably should have known it wouldn’t be as busy when I didn’t see any news vans outside.  Also, I forgot that court was starting at 9:30 am instead of 9:00 am.  Live and learn.

The First Witness For The Prosecution

The first witness of the day was Joseph Niebles, a special agent for the FBI (cool, right?) . He testified about Google searches that were found on computers in Daniel and Rachel’s apartment.

Right after Niebles took the stand, Scott Sanders asked for a sidebar (I’m not actually sure about the technical term, but the lawyers and the judge went into a back room for about ten minutes).

I’m guessing Sanders was trying to keep the jury from hearing about some pretty incriminating searches.  He didn’t win that one.  So a long list went up on the PowerPoint screen, including “Making sure a body is not found,” “Quick ways to kill people,” and “tux and party rentals.”

There was no cross examination of this witness.

MMTVL would like to know how Special Agent Niebles could be sure that the searches were made by Daniel Wozniak as opposed to Rachel Buffet, who also lived in this apartment.

The Second Witness For The Prosecution

The next witness was Lester James McKinney (apologies for any name misspellings – witnesses spell their names aloud for the record, but sometimes people were mumbly or spoke too quickly), a friend of Sam’s.

Some interesting information came up in questioning.  Lester and Sam became friends while working at the same company in 2008. He met Julie through Sam.

Lester and Julie had mutual interests such and dance and fashion, and they were pretty close.  He was another witness brought forth by the prosecution to show that Sam and Julie were not romantically involved. He stated that Sam protected Julie like a big brother would.

For the cross examination of Lester Mckinney, MMTVL had nothing on Scott Sanders. During questioning, Lester admitted Julie was attracted to Sam and that Lester and Julie had discussed her curiosity about the size of Sam’s penis. The question was answered when Sam “whipped out his penis and flashed it around” as a joke when he’d been drinking at a party.  It didn’t sound like this was nefarious in any way, but it’s not exactly brother and sister behavior either.

I’ve always wondered why the texts sent to Julie on the night of her murder repeatedly mentioned that there would be “no sex” that night.  It would be weird to bring that up again and again when you’re just in a platonic relationship with someone.

Going along with the prosecution’s claim, in one of Julie’s replies to “sham” Sam, she responded “Ew,” and said the two of them were like “bro and sis.”

I don’t know.  I’d think she would have asked, “Dude, why do you keep bringing up sex?” She did say she wouldn’t be spending the night.

Matt Murphy claimed that Daniel believed Julie and Sam were sleeping together because, as Lester McKinney stated on the stand, “Julie was always with Sam.”

What do you all think? Be sure to leave a comment!

The Third Witness For The Prosecution

The third prosecution witness of the day was a young man named Wesley Freilich.  Wesley has the unfortunate honor of being the sixteen year old “ATM Kid” who led police to Daniel Wozniak after being arrested for using Sam Herr’s ATM card.

Wesley talked about meeting Daniel as a ten year old. He didn’t have a father growing up, and Daniel had befriended the kid while the two were doing theater together. Wesley had respected Daniel and saw him as a big brother type who he could go to for advice.

Even though the two of them had not been in contact for a couple of years, when Daniel approached Wesley in 2010 with a money making opportunity, Wesley agreed to help Daniel in spite of his own misgivings.  He became even more uncomfortable when told to wear a hat and sunglasses whenever he used the ATM card to take out cash.  He was supposed to get the maximum amount of cash every day, using the PIN number that Daniel had supplied.

MMTVL really wants to know how Daniel got Sam’s PIN number.  This isn’t something Scott Sanders could learn from a cross examination of Wesley, but since we were on the subject…

During Wesley’s time on the stand, Matt Murphy did a pretty good job of showing how Daniel had betrayed the trust of this kid who looked up to him.

Daniel lied to him about the legality of what he was doing, and ended up getting Wesley into a heap of trouble. It was after using Sam’s ATM card to order a pizza that the FBI was able to track the card’s activity, and they swarmed Wesley’s home (helicopters included).  The sixteen year old was put in handcuffs on his front lawn for all his neighbors to see. As one would imagine, he was terrified.

During police questioning, the confused Wesley told everything about how he had come into possession of a missing man’s ATM card.  Remember, at this point in the investigation, the police still believed that Sam Herr was on the run after murdering Julie in his apartment.

During the defense’s cross examination, Scott Sanders  focused on any changes Wesley had noticed in his friend “Dan.” Wesley said that during this time period, Daniel was agitated and very stressed out, which was completely unlike him.

MMTVL doesn’t see how knowing this about Daniel’s behavior at that time can be used as a “defense.”  It isn’t that difficult for Matt Murphy to say, “Of course he was stressed out, he’d just murdered the card holder.”

You couldn’t help but to feel bad for Wesley, whose life was permanently changed because of his unsuspecting involvement in a double murder scheme. I’m not sure what type of punishment the law will have for him, but Wesley testified that day without having an immunity deal.  Pretty brave.

During the lunch break I told Wesley that I thought he’d done a good job on the stand. The whole situation had to be intimidating even for the now-twenty one year old.  I wanted to ask him about his feelings toward Daniel now, but I’m a blogger, and he was a witness. Raquel Herr had to remind us of that when she quietly told Wesley’s mother that he shouldn’t talk to me.

I felt terrible.  I took the stairs so I could get out of there quickly. MMTVL really should have known better.

Up Next

Okay, it’s going to take a couple more posts to cover the rest of the guilt portion of the trial. I won’t take so long to post next time.

Then, we’ll talk about the gut-wrenching penalty phase.  By the time you all read this post, there will probably be a jury decision about whether Daniel should get life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) or the death penalty (DP).

Keep an eye on the Facebook page for updates.  I’ll try to tweet more too.

Next up: Guilty – Part Three

23 thoughts on “Guilty – Part Two”

  1. Well, it’s been a long time coming, but thanks for the update about the trial phase, even though the penalty phase is nearly over. As far as the relationship between Sam and Julie is concerned, are you suggesting or implying that the murderer may have been jealous of this relationship? Frankly, even the defence team did not deem this possibility as meriting the status of “extenuating circumstances” . In fact, there are no extenuating circumstances of any kind in this heinous crime.
    Personally, I don’t think it’s anyone’s business whether or not Sam and Julie were involved romantically. After all, they were adults, and if they were in a sexual relationship, that’s perfectly understandable. Why does anyone need to dwell upon it?

    1. I agree. The relationship was their business. However, it was brought up often in court and these posts are about the court proceedings. No, I was not suggesting that Daniel had any jealousy about Julie.

  2. Julie was not sleeping with Sam. Could she had been attracted to him? Sure, but that doesn’t mean they were sleeping together. Both Sam and Julie were in committed relationships with other people. If anyone knew Julie they would know how sweet and kind she was, which your friend took advantage of. At her age, it was very common for friends to spend the night at friends houses regardless of gender. Especially if drinking was involved. It’s the smart thing to do, and Julie was a very smart girl. – So please do not try and slander her name. What happened to her never should have happened!
    I can say, if I knew of someone who murdered someone he last thing I would ever do is befriend them. Be interested in a story – sure. But i would never lower myself to call a murderer a friend just for some social media notoriety. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you on 20/20 in the episode airs, because people like you try to make themselves relevant.
    You befriended a man, AFTER you found out her murdered 2 people. All because you met him once, and found him attractive? He didn’t even remember you.

    Please remember. Two innocent lives were lost for greed. 2 families have to live with that pain. Friends and family grieve over the loss. Do not slander their names. They are gone, and what happened shouldn’t have happened. Their past is their past. Leave it there. All that’s relieved is what that monster did.

    1. I agree that this crime never should have happened.

      I did not mean to slander anyone’s name. I was just bringing up points that were regularly discussed during the trial.

      I think you will probably see many people interviewed on news programs – including friends and family members of Julie and Sam.

    2. Totally completely agree. If you are going to choose to be friends with the slime don’t slander the innocents names or be biased in your report. Sam and Julie were amazing innocent people who were stolen from their lives stolen, his ex is an innocent wonderful woman who has been completely hindered from living any kind of life because of his sickening and evil actions all of their families have been hurt forever because of dan. He doesn’t deserve life and he doesn’t deserve a friend.

      1. Well… Sorry… He has at least one.

        It sounds like you actually knew Sam and Julie. I am sorry for your personal loss.

  3. So, basically, it’s all over and done with. The convicted murderer’s fate is in the hands of the judge. Only he has the power to accept or decline the jury’s recommendation for the ultimate punishment. Frankly, I am opposed to capital punishment, because a) it wouldn’t bring back the deceased and b) it certainly wouldn’t serve as a deterrent to future murderers. I would have preferred life imprisonment without parole. Then, the murderet would really suffer

    1. it’ll just cost tax payers thousands to feed him and keep a roof over his head and a warm bunk. Nice and comfy watching tv talking to friends. Why should someone who kills innocent people be able to liveout their days in comfort

        1. When you murder two human beings, dismember one for money (it did not belong to him) you DO NOT deserve comfort. It always amazes me that people “befriend” people like him. He is a manipulative psychopath.

  4. I saw the story on Dateline, a very sad and tragic tale, of Shakespearean proportions.
    Certainly for the victims, Sam and Julie, and their families… but also for Daniel and Rachel.
    How quickly a life can be lost, or spiral out of control, with no chance to change the cast of the die.
    It would be fascinating to hear the whole story, off the record, of how this came to be.

  5. The death penalty is a touchy subject in this country. We want to think of ourselves as the most progressive country in the world yet we execute people just like Third World countries such as Iran does. Can’t have our cake and eat it too. We either are a champion for human rights or we are not. I don’t believe in it because I do not believe in “closure.” I especially don’t believe watching someone being put to death for killing your loved one will bring any kind of closure. You are too far gone if that’s what you want to see.

    On another note, I would like to know what the family and friends of the man Sam wad tried for & later acquitted think of all of this. Please be sure to include a chapter on them if and when you write your book. I look forward to reading it.

  6. That he is, Karen. It is not at all unusual for high profile male murder defendants to collect the affections and/or attention of women they did not know before they were charged with a capital crime. When the defendant is female, the same holds true.

  7. I’m honestly shocked you offered any commentary at all regarding Sam and Julie’s relationship. It doesn’t matter in the slightest whether they were just friends or were intimate. It has zero bearing on this case. You opinion on their relationship is completely irrelevant to this case and in very poor taste.

  8. I have mostly resisted the urge to comment so far as I was going to go back and comment once I have caught up on all this blog but just quickly to those who have brought it up.

    I would have thought the reason is obvious why the prosecution put so much focus on the status of Sam and Julie’s relationship.

    When ‘Sam’ (ie Wozniak) was texting Julie the night of her murder wasn’t he mentioning sex? The whole point was that Wozniak thought they were having a sexual relationship, whereas those that knew better knew otherwise.

    As for why Julie didn’t ask ‘why are you texting me about sex?’ – well she kind of did in a jokey way (ie ew, we are like bro and sis).

    This would be the whole reason for the focus – to drive home that it was Wozniak texting Julie, not Sam (who was in fact already dead).

    Also my guess about why Sanders was asking the kid about Wozniak’s behaviour was that he was preparing the jury for the sentencing phase. They clearly put on no defense – the evidence against Wozniak was overwhelming and to even attempt to say he was not guilty in ANY way would only start to piss the jury off.

    If Wozniak was acting nervous and agitated during that time it might go to negating some of the taste he left in people’s mouths with that cold/heartless/’monster-like’ confession he gave. They needed to start showing his so-called ‘human’ side. That would be my guess.

    The attempt to not start pissing the jury off would be another reason not to question about who made the internet searches. Perhaps Wozniak told his lawyer it was him? Why try and hint it wasn’t, when there is absolutely no way he could even try to suggest he didn’t commit the murders?

    1. I am just hopping on this blog bandwagon. I live far from CA and happened to catch an ID 20-20 rerun two nights ago about this “story.” I was curious how the “story” with the ex-fiancé ended only to discover that chapter has not ended and in the process, discovered this blog. What an incredible set of circumstances. I totally understand your fascination, Musings. I’m going to carry on reading but felt a need to chime in here. Thank you, Ame! I was at a loss to understand the focus on a relationship between Sam and Julie. You nailed it! Now “I get it!”

      1. Thank you so much!

        The story is so disturbing and incredible.

        It will be interesting to see if we learn anything new during Rachel Buffett’s trial in September.

        I appreciate you reading the blog.

  9. It was clearly Wozniak texting Julie on the night of her murder…NOT Sam, as he had already been killed by then.

    1. It was definitely not Sam texting Julie. The texts came from someone who had access to Sam’s phone after his murder.

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