Penalty Phase: Daniel’s Character Witness

We were down to the last two defense witnesses, including a character witness, and I don’t know if it would have been possible to find individuals on more opposite ends of the justice spectrum.

The first was Daniel Munoz, who met Daniel Wozniak when they were housed together at the Orange County Jail Intake and Release Center. They were like next-door neighbors… only in cells. The other defense witness was one of the lead detectives on the case: Det. Jose Morales of the Costa Mesa PD.

The Character Witness: Daniel Munoz

Okay, I’m going to admit it: my first reaction to seeing Munoz on the stand was, “WTF?” (I actually wrote that in my notes.)

I mean, I’m Daniel Wozniak’s friend, but no, I did not have an immediate positive reaction to Mr. Munoz being the one character witness the defense decided to put on the stand.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not badmouthing Munoz as a person, but him having a rap sheet as long as my arm probably didn’t do much to impress the jury. Matt Murphy made quick work of besmirching Munoz’s reputation during his cross-examination.

For me, it ended up being rather ironic, because when Daniel Munoz described our friend Daniel Wozniak, it didn’t sound much different from how I would describe him.

He told the jury that everybody liked Daniel Wozniak and he was always willing to help anyone who needed it. Daniel Wozniak was cheerful, honest, and generous.  He would share anything he had.  Daniel Wozniak never got into any fights. He never got angry or confrontational with anyone. Munoz even credited Daniel Wozniak for helping him get his own life back on track when he helped Munoz find religion.

Yes, I know the “finding religion” business is a prison cliché, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be true.  God and religion are very important in Daniel Wozniak’s life, so it doesn’t surprise me that these topics would come up in conversation. 

Munoz told the jury how you meet a lot of different types of people when you’re in jail. It seemed like he was saying this life experience gave him an ability to be a good judge of character.

It’s not as illogical an argument as it might sound. Making friends in jail must have its challenges, and the inmates in Orange County are even more wary after all the information that came out in the past year.

Oh, and Munoz also said that even the deputies at the Orange county jail like Daniel Wozniak.

This is actually true. I’ve seen it. He gets along really well with the deputies. He doesn’t cause trouble. He doesn’t get write-ups. He’s basically a model prisoner.

Cross-Examining Daniel Munoz

Matt Murphy’s cross of Munoz went exactly how I expected. There was a lot of talk about Munoz’s criminal record. Murphy asked questions about Munoz’s tattoos, suggesting that Daniel Wozniak might have been afraid of Munoz because he looked scary and had a bunch of “prison tats.”

 Matt Murphy, that just seems like a nonsensical argument considering the large proportion of inmates who have ink.  Tattoos are pretty common these days, both in prison and in “the real world.” I have seventeen myself.  Daniel Wozniak is probably one of the only inmates  without any tattoos.

 I wonder if any of the jury members have tattoos..?

Determined to discredit Daniel Munoz as a character witness, Matt Murphy hammered away at Munoz’s criminal record, to the extent that at one point Munoz even complained to the prosecutor, “You’re making me feel like I’m on trial here.”

Oh yeah? Try writing a blog about Daniel Wozniak…

When it was time for Scott Sanders to re-cross, he asked Munoz if there was benefit in coming to testify for Daniel Wozniak.  No, there wasn’t.  No deals were made. Munoz just insisted on testifying because he wanted to show the jury another side to Daniel Wozniak… the side he knows… the same side I know.

Why Didn’t I Testify?

That brings us to a question I’ve been asked more than once: Why didn’t I testify for my friend?

I’m an upstanding member of society; wouldn’t my opinion mean something to the jury?

My answer is: if I had been asked, I would have.  Daniel didn’t want those close to him to testify.

My personal gut feeling is that Scott Sanders might have wanted to call Daniel’s parents or other relatives to the stand.  Aside from me, Daniel has numerous people who are still close to him. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if there were other people willing to testify on Daniel’s behalf.

That didn’t happen, though, and I’m pretty sure it was because Daniel wanted to spare his friends and loved ones from being cross-examined.

More questions for any jury members who are reading this:

  1. What did you think of Daniel Munoz’s testimony?
  2. Did you wonder why no one else testified for Daniel’s character?
  3. Would it have made any difference to you if there had been other character witnesses?

Coming Up: Detective Jose Morales

It was an interesting choice to call one of the CMPD officers in charge of the entire case as the last defense witness.

During the penalty phase, when the prosecution called Detective Morales to the stand he was mostly questioned about locations related to the crime.  He’d shown the spots on a map. Morales was also the officer who took the photos of the texts on Julie Kibuishi’s phone, the ones displayed during the guilt phase.

At that point in the trial, Scott Sanders didn’t even cross-examine Det. Morales when he was on the stand.

Now, the officer would be the final witness in an attempt to convince the jury not to execute Daniel.

I was intrigued.

That testimony will be up next on DWIMF.

6 thoughts on “Penalty Phase: Daniel’s Character Witness”

  1. the more i read in this blog, the more i’m finding the blogger inserting himself into this text … as though owning friendship with daniel wozniak is giving him the brush with fame he’s always wanted… still looking for something which indicates altruism here. seems to be lacking, progressively as the blog goes forth…

    1. Here’s the interesting thing – I have always stated that the purpose of this blog is to record my own experiences of what it is like being friends with Daniel Wozniak.

      It would be challenging to acomplish that without inserting myself into the text.

      Oh, and Daniel actually gave me your information recently. You tried to contact him for a possible interview for Crime Watch Daily. He won’t be talking to you. He did say that I could contact you if I had any interest in promoting my blog. I didn’t contact you. Well, I hope I didn’t lose my chance at that “brush with fame” I’ve always wanted.

  2. I am surprise that more witnesses for the defense were not called. Parents’ testimonies could really help the jury be little more sympathetic. Especially if they have children. Would Daniel prefer to be on Death Row? I have read some articles about some defendants would prefer DR vs. life in prison. I am looking forward to Scott Sanders filing his brief next week. I will be interesting to see, considering all how long this case has gone on.

  3. Now that Daniel knows his fate – since most appeals are for naught, he needs to be the force behind what people will ultimately feel about him. Possibly through you he could do something that so far has not been done by a convicted, newsworthy person like him – a man who has been accused and tried and convicted of murder. He could let you tell his story. It would become a sensation to be able to see inside him. He could explain his motives, his planning, the execusion. We could all see how things did not work out as planned.

    1. Yeah Raymond, that sounds like a decent idea. I am not hear to sensationalize what Daniel did and the current situation he is in. I am hear because I am the same age as Daniel and I find it upsetting that he did this for money. I find it sad for everybody! Ultimately, I think he would need to write the book himself with a ghostwriter. However, that should be down the road.

  4. That you don’t see this pathetic sociopath as vermin on earth is astounding. Who CARES what his defense attorney did or didn’t do? He’s a cold-blooded murderer who killed for money – the hard-earned and saved money of someone who thought of him as a friend. If Daniel had been a friend of mine, it would have ended the minute the story was revealed. I’ve thought of this case MANY times, and I wish Daniel could have been killed immediately – why support his fat ass in prison for the next 20 years? I hope he runs into someone in prison who has the combined hatred of 1,000,000 terrorists, and dismembers him while he’s alive.

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