Guilty – Part Five

And continued…

Some time has passed since I began writing the play by play of the trial. We all know how it ends, but people reading this are probably keen to learn all the details. That’s how I am. That’s why I went to the trial in the first place.

The “character” Murderer Musings TV Lawyer (MMTVL) is more from the point of view of an analytical  jury member asking the questions one might want answered if given the task of deciding a death penalty case.

People are curious about the specifics. I’ve had friends ask me about my opinion on the defense put on by Scott Sanders. I’ll give you more of my thoughts on that when we get to the penalty phase of Daniel’s trial.

More Witnesses For The Prosecution: Anthony Celeste, Continued

In “Guilty Part Four,” we left off right after the lunch break on December 14, 2015, and Anthony Celeste was on the stand.

Anthony filmed each and every performance of the production of Nine, the play Daniel and Rachel were performing in on the days of the murders. Anthony was very familiar with the play.

Matt Murphy played the opening scene from each of the shows to see if there were any variations in the performances from night to night.  Murphy pointed out that Daniel did a great job onstage and there was no difference in performances even though he had just committed two cold-blooded murders.

But during cross-examination, Anthony Celeste said Daniel’s performance was “off” on the night of Friday, May 21st. Anthony described him as sweating profusely, looking flush, and missing cues. The audience that night probably didn’t notice, but Anthony saw the show every night, and normally Daniel was “spot on.”

Anthony also answered questions about Rachel Buffett’s performance that night.  He noted that, unlike her other performances, Rachel shed actual tears during her crying scene that night..  It wasn’t like her to be able to cry on cue.

MMTVL doesn’t really have any questions, but I want to say that Anthony Celeste did fine work filming the show.  It looked great. And the stuff about crying on cue was pretty funny, but in Rachel’s defense, it is not easy to do that.

Witness Michael Anthony Cohen

Michael Cohen was one of the Costa Mesa Police Department officers who interviewed Daniel and eventually took his confession. It was during Cohen’s testimony that Matt Murphy showed the jury segments of the video of Daniel’s interrogation.

The Interrogation Video

The time stamp on the video showed that this was an edited version of the questioning.  Who knows what was left out or why? But we saw Daniel change his story repeatedly before he gave his confession… and don’t think the detectives didn’t notice the discrepancies.

Some of you may have seen snippets of the video on the Dateline episode. Just so you know, I have made fun of him repeatedly for the Tommy Bahama shirt he wore. He was arrested at his bachelor party.  I feel like this wasn’t a classy event.

The police brought Daniel in because they connected him to Sam Herr’s ATM card  through Wesley.  They are searching for Sam at this point: They still think he murdered Julie and is on the run. They even thought they might find Sam at the bachelor party.

Early on, Daniel owned up to being involved with Sam in a plan to defraud Sam’s bank.  Sam gave Daniel his ATM card and PIN. Daniel would arrange for money to be taken out of Sam’s account.  Sam would claim that he didn’t take the money out, and the bank would replace the “stolen” money.  That was it.  Daniel didn’t know where to find Sam.  He didn’t know anything about Julie’s murder.

Story changes…

He admitted that he lied to the police (that happens a lot on the video). He knew more than he originally told them. Sam had come to Daniel and Rachel’s apartment early Saturday morning. Sam was “freaked out” and told Daniel that there was a body in his apartment. He’d shot Julie the night before during a drug and alcohol fueled fit of rage. He needed help getting away. He asked Daniel to take his laptop and get rid of it.  Daniel dropped Sam off in Long Beach on Saturday afternoon. He didn’t know anything about the murder weapon. He hadn’t even seen it.

The CMPD wanted to know why Daniel agreed to help a murderer escape.

Daniel claimed he was afraid for his and Rachel’s safety.  Sam had threatened to kill them both if Daniel didn’t help him. In return for helping Sam get away, Daniel would take all of Sam’s money out of his bank account. Some of the money would get to Sam.  Daniel would keep the rest. He insisted that Rachel didn’t know anything about any of it.

The CMPD wanted to know how Daniel was going to get the money to Sam.

Now Daniel acknowledged that Sam had purchased a burner phone.  Sam would eventually call Daniel with information on how to get him money.

The police ask Daniel for a DNA sample to “eliminate” him.  He obliged, but remembered that he had been in Sam’s apartment on Friday night.  He had used the bathroom.

At this point, Daniel agreed to tell the officers everything ;  anything he could do to get out of jail for his wedding that Friday.

The officers were not buying Daniel’s story.  He wasn’t going anywhere.

He was being charged as an accessory to murder.

Daniel was in a lot of trouble. The police suggested he cooperate. Tell them everything. Lead them to Sam. That would look better for him in court. He should “man up.”  The officers asked him what they should tell his fiancée.  “Tell her I’m sorry,” he quietly mumbled.

Things continued to get worse for Daniel.  The police tried a perfectly legal but dishonest tactic.

They told Daniel about finding his DNA at Julie’s crime scene.

His story changed again.

Sam had taken Daniel up to his apartment and Daniel had seen “the goddamned body.” He said he saw the bullet holes in Julie’s head.

Things really unraveled for Daniel after that. Officers said that seasoned detectives weren’t able to see the bullet holes because of Julie’s position and her hair. Daniel tried to talk his way out of this error by saying Sam had told him that there were two shots. This didn’t work.

Now they were sure that Daniel was part of this murder.  Maybe he even shot Julie.  They tried to convince Daniel to “let it go” and that he would “feel much better,” once he told them the truth.

Daniel wanted to talk to Rachel.

That is where Judge Conley ended for the day.

Next up – The last witnesses

Addressing Comments

A lot of new people have found this blog and Facebook page since the recent airing of the Dateline episode about the murders of Sam Herr and Julie Kibuishi. I can’t deny that I really appreciate having more readers. It lets me know there are others out there who are intrigued by this story and want to understand why these tragic events came about.

They want to know, just as I did, why Daniel Wozniak committed murder. And I believe that some of them did not buy the easy answer of “he’s a sociopath.” I’m not saying that sociopathic behavior isn’t a factor, but on its own, it’s too simplistic a reason. It’s nice to know that others are just as curious and inquisitive as I am.

However, along with the new readers came a lot more comments. And believe it or not, I appreciate that, too. Yes, even the negative comments. I welcome an exchange of ideas.

But comments that just bash me or enthuse that Daniel “should fry” probably won’t stay up long. Comments that do not add anything to the discussion get deleted by my editor on Facebook and are not approved on the blog. It’s my blog… my Facebook page… my decision. I’m sorry if people don’t like that.

I would like to reply to every comment, but I don’t always have the time. So I’m writing this in hopes that I can answer some questions and sort of re-state my reasons for writing this blog in the first place.

Why His Friend?

It kind of surprised me how many people were upset merely because I am friends with Daniel. Many commentors said that he doesn’t “deserve” to have a friend.

I actually get why people would feel that way, but I don’t agree with them. We’re all entitled to our opinions, as we are also entitled to our own experiences and how we deal with them. I like to think that most people are redeemable.

I also have seen a side to Daniel that the majority of people don’t see… and don’t want to see. That’s fair. I hadn’t planned on seeing it originally. I had plenty of preconceived ideas about him, but I kept an open mind.

Now, I am his friend. But I do understand how people are unable to look past his horrible actions and still see the human being. I have been able to separate the man from his actions, and I’m sharing what I learn as I go. I know I’m not the only person to find this idea interesting.

Hitler? Really?

Also, by the way, it’s a silly argument to compare Daniel to Hitler and then complain about someone writing a book about him. Seriously? Do you know how many books have been written about Hitler? I don’t have an exact number, but there are lots.

Some people say they are worried about me and my family. That is kind of you, but unnecessary. Yes, I am Daniel’s friend, but make no mistake; this doesn’t mean that I think, “he is innocent.” I have never said that. Actually, neither has Daniel.

I have also made it clear that nothing I write is an attempt to convince anyone that Daniel deserves to walk free. I’m not trying to convince readers of anything. I’m just sharing my opinions. Are you are curious about what I have to say? Then read what I write. If you aren’t, don’t. It’s not complicated.

Oh, and my kids are doing great by the way. They have good lives. They get lots of love and attention. They are smart and happy. I’m a great mom. I just happen to be one who is a writer and a creative artist. Those two things need not be mutually exclusive.

Why Daniel’s Friend Now?

Some of the commentors are also upset that I was not Daniel’s friend before the murders took place. All things considered, that’s a strange thing to get upset about, don’t you think? In my blog, I’ve said from the beginning that Daniel and I had not been friends before May 2010. We had only spoken briefly a couple of times at the Hunger Artists Theatre.

When I started writing to Daniel, it was out of pure curiosity and interest in true crime. It was the fact that I’d “met the guy” that made me decide to give it a go and send him a letter. I thought maybe I could write a true crime book.

I know that a number of people are planning books about this crime; are people also concerned as to their interaction with Daniel before they decided to write about him? That I thought it would be interesting to see if I could actually have a discussion with “the murderer himself” does not hinge on my prior relationship with him, as it would not for any other journalist or writer who would want to sit down and talk to him.

When this whole creative writing project began, my blog was called “murder musings” only. It didn’t mention Daniel’s name, it didn’t mention the victims’ names, and it didn’t mention my name. At that point, I figured that I could write a book about him whether he ever wrote back to me or not.

Now I think I have a different book/play to write. I haven’t completely figured it out yet, so the blog is my jumping off point.


Becoming Daniel Wozniak’s “bestie” was not anything I’d envisioned, but now I am one of his closest friends. He often points out to me that, unlike many friends who are no longer in his life, I am capable of seeing the person beyond the deed.

Why am I able to do that?

Maybe it’s because I wasn’t his friend beforehand. I had no sense of personal betrayal.  I knew what I was walking into. Daniel has made other close friends in the past five years. Most of them are in jail, but don’t judge them for that.

I would also like to reassure those who are so worried about my quality of friendship, that I have been able continue and grow my friendships with those in my “real-life” world. People who know me see no reason to fear that I’m being used or manipulated. My closest friends are not behind bars. I’m a regular person with regular every-day relationships.

Anonymity and “Fame”

As far as me not using my own name on the blog… well, if someone really wants to figure out who I am, I’m sure they’ll be able to do it. It’s funny how some people say that I am trying to get my “15 minutes of fame out of the situation,” and others complain that I don’t use my name. My husband said if I start using my name on the blog now, it will seem like I am trying to get famous. So… rock and a hard place, you know?

Maybe Not For Everyone… and That’s Okay

For those commentors who personally knew Sam or Julie, you have my sincere condolences. I know both of them were greatly loved, and their losses have caused irreparable pain to many. Your anger toward Daniel Wozniak is warranted. This blog might be too difficult to accept for someone so close to the victims.

I am going to continue writing it, though. Many people will be writing about Daniel and this crime. Sadly, Julie, Sam and Rachel will all be forever linked to Daniel and the horrific crimes.

What About Rachel Buffett?

Speaking of Rachel Buffett: there have been plenty of comments left about her. People have very differing opinions after seeing her interview on Dateline.

I will be honest; I lean toward the side that does not entirely believe Rachel’s story of having no involvement in the murders. My opinion is formed on what I heard in court, from studying the case, and from various conversations I’ve had with people.

BUT, I don’t actually know Rachel Buffett, and I want to keep a completely open mind. Maybe my mind would be changed if I got to know her. She does have many supporters who believe she is completely innocent and even a victim herself in this case. Who knows what information will come out during her trial. Rachel could be completely exonerated. But like with Daniel’s case, it is something that needs to be tried in court.

Not Done By A Long Shot

Hopefully that clears up questions anyone had. Your comments really are appreciated. I hope you continue to read the blog. There is a long road ahead for Daniel, and I’m planning to write about it.

Guilty – Part Four

December 14, 2015 was day three of Daniel’s trial. I couldn’t go to court that morning, which was unfortunate, because I missed one the most important witnesses of the guilt phase: Tim Wozniak (one of Daniel’s older brothers).

Luckily, I had some friends in the audience who took detailed notes! (You know who you are – and thank you.)

Continuing The Examination of Sergeant Ed Everett

Let’s start with the beginning of the day, which saw the continuing cross-examination of witness Sergeant Ed Everett. At the end of “Guilty – Part Three,” we heard the Sergeant testify that he believed Rachel Buffett should be sitting next to Daniel Wozniak and on trial for murder.

I’m guessing that this was the defense’s favorite of the police witnesses.

There was a lot of back and forth between the prosecution and the defense. The main goal seemed to be establishing if Rachel was part of the entire murder scheme, or if she was just an accessory after the fact. Matt Murphy was determined to have the jury know that there isn’t any actual evidence proving her involvement. Scott Sanders wanted them to know Everett’s personal opinion on the case.

During questioning, the defense established that Everett is one of the highest trained individuals in the Costa Mesa Police Department. Based on his training, he believes that “all the signs are there,” but proof can’t be established because the only person he knows who “has that proof is Mr. Wozniak, who seems to not want to offer it…”

So, we all get the point. Everett thinks Rachel was involved in the murders. There is no proof to his opinions.

And really, did they think it would make any difference to the jury when determining Daniel’s guilt? Scott Sanders had to know better than that. So why even draw attention to Rachel in the first place? Were they trying to sow a tiny little seed of reasonable doubt? More likely they were hoping this information would help Daniel during the penalty phase. (Spoiler alert – It didn’t!)

Murderer Musings TV Lawyer (MMTVL) is curious if the police are still actively investigating Rachel Buffett’s role / knowledge of this crime.

Next Witness: Derek Baker

In 2010, Derek Baker was the property manager of the Camden Apartments. He testified that Daniel and Rachel were in the eviction process at some point before the murders.

During cross, the defense established that no eviction actually took place and that the original notice had been settled with the apartment management’s lawyers.

OK, I get that the prosecution was determined to show Daniel was in terrible financial debt, but there are LOTS of people in much worse debt than he was in. His bank accounts were all overdrawn, but not by insane amounts.  Also, he didn’t have any credit cards.

MMTVL wants to know what kind of deal was made with the management lawyers.

Next Witness: Jeff Kociencki

Jeff Kociencki (not sure about the spelling) was a close friend of Daniel’s in high school, and I’m guessing his testimony was a tad detrimental for the defense.

Jeff said that Daniel had asked him for an alibi.  Back in May 2010, Jeff got a call from Daniel, who told him that a murder had taken place at the Camden Apartments and Daniel was being questioned.  Daniel told his friend Jeff that he’d been alone at the time (“strolling around a duck pond”) and just needed Jeff to say they were actually together. Jeff did not agree to this.

MMTVL: Mr. Kociencki, did you happen to laugh when Mr. Wozniak said he was strolling around a duck pond? I apologize, Your Honor, but come on…a duck pond?

Next Witness: Tim Wozniak

Tim is the middle of the three Wozniak brothers, and ten years older than Daniel. Here is what I was told about Tim’s testimony:

  • He spoke quietly, his eyes were glazed over, and at times, his face was very red.
  • His answers were short. He gave minimal details. He often couldn’t “recall” the answers to questions.
  • Tim was asked if he was getting immunity for testifying against his brother. His answer was no.
  • During cross-examination, Tim said that his lawyer told him if he testified he wouldn’t go back to jail.
  • So, it’s 5/27/2010. Tim had been looking for Dan to get some money from him. Tim went to Dan’s apartment at some point, but didn’t find him. Later the two of them talked on the phone and make plans to meet at a 7-11 around 2 AM.
  • The defense made sure the jury knew that Tim was drinking and smoking pot that day.
  • At the 7-11, Dan gave Tim a crate and he put it in the back seat of his car. Dan also gave him “a small amount” of money in bills and change for gas.
  • At one point, they went to Noah Buffett’s apartment, took the saw and other tools (from the earlier photos) out of the crate, and left them at Noah’s.
  • I think that Tim was alone after that. He still had the crate. Inside the crate is the backpack, which contained the checks, id, phone, shell casings, bloody clothes, and the gun.
  • Tim took the gun out and gave it to some guy named Bob. Tim called him a “ballistics” guy. (No follow up on that!)
  • Tim admitted to throwing the backpack over the fence into the backyard of his parents’ neighbors’ house.
  • After Dan was arrested, Tim talked to Rachel, and found out that Dan was in trouble and needed a lawyer. Tim told Rachel “Dan left me a crate with stuff in it.”

That was all the information my friend gave me. It was pretty interesting stuff.  Thank you again, unnamed court observer.

MMTVL: Does anyone happen to have a transcript on them?? When Rachel talked to Tim, was this the first she learned anything about a gun? Did Tim tell her what was in the crate? Did he know he was hiding evidence when he threw that bag into the neighbor’s yard!? Could he not find a better location to hide evidence? What’s his alcohol of choice?  Is it whiskey? Did he happen to drink a lot of whiskey before throwing that bag into his neighbor’s yard? Yes, I know that isn’t relevant, but damn…the neighbor’s yard..?

Side note – Daniel doesn’t appear angry at all with his brother for testifying against him.

To Be Continued…

Guilty – Part Three

As you all know, on Monday, January 11, 2016, an Orange County jury came back, at breakneck speed, with a recommendation that my friend, Daniel Patrick Wozniak, receive the death penalty.

I was not surprised by their decision (well, the speed of it did actually surprise me), but I was saddened.

Recently, someone sent me a message on this blog’s Facebook page stating that Daniel may be my friend, but he is also a monster.

I get a lot of negative comments on my blog and Facebook page. Most of the time, I choose the “ignore and delete” method of response. But this comment was actually thought-provoking. It touched on one of the main points of why I write about Daniel in the first place.

I know many people think he is merely a monster, and I won’t deny that he did do some monstrous acts. The thing is, I don’t believe that Daniel Wozniak is a monster. I’m not the only one who feels that way, either. I guess I’m just the one with the biggest mouth.

I’ve been contacted by quite a few people who knew Daniel and his family long before the events of May of 2010. The words used to describe him include generous, funny, smart, goofy, caring, and a good guy. More than one person has told me that Daniel comes from a loving, religious, and tight family.

I’ve also heard from many of the people in Daniel’s life now. Admittedly, many of them are inmates. But all of us describe Daniel the same way: generous, funny, smart, goofy, caring, a good guy, and religious.

So for me, the big question is: what happened? How did he change so much? Is the “old Daniel” back now?

I’m hoping that Daniel himself can tell me the answers to those questions. Some of you might also be curious about the same things. Either way, I want to know for myself. I want to know as a mother. I want to know as a friend.

So, I’m going to continue this blog, and I’m probably going to write a book or a play or both. No one has to read anything I write and I won’t be breaking into your living rooms and forcing you to watch my one-woman show.

But for those of you who are interested, here is my continuing viewpoint of Daniel’s trial:

Guilty – Part Three

See! I told you it wouldn’t take long for my next post.

We were on day two (Thursday, December 10, 2015) and left off after describing the examination of prosecution witness Wesley Freilich (the ATM Kid).

The Law Enforcement Witnesses

After the lunch break, the prosecution put on a bunch of Costa Mesa police officers, and they had plenty of damaging evidence to present.

1) David Casarez: During his questioning, we established where Daniel and Rachel were living at the time of the murders (the Camden Martinique Apartments in Costa Mesa).

We also saw photographs of a red handled ax and a 24″ wood-handled saw (can you say, “chill down your spine?”).

No cross examination.

Murderer Musings TV Lawyer wanted to know where the pictures were taken.  The tools were leaning against a wall in some residence.  This might not necessarily be that important, but MMTVL likes to have all the facts.  

Side note: when I talked to Daniel on the phone that night, he didn’t know either.  Maybe Noah Buffett’s (Rachel’s brother, who went on Dr. Phil with her) apartment?

2) James Brown: More photographs were shown during his testimony, including a picture of a plastic grocery bag from Von’s, and a black backpack.  These items and their contents were found in the yard of Daniel’s parents’ next door neighbors. The police believe that it was Daniel’s brother, Tim Wozniak, who got rid of this evidence for Daniel (and clearly didn’t do a very good job of it). The items collected included:

  • Sam’s wallet with his ID and credit cards.
  • Sam’s passport.
  • A box of Sam’s checks.
  • Sam’s broken cell phone, with the battery removed.
  • A green T-shirt covered in blood.
  • A pair of jeans.
  • A pair of boxer shorts.
  • Two used shell casings for a 38mm handgun.

The Defense did not do a cross examination.

MMTVL – I got nothin’.

3) Kevin Condon: He did a search of Daniel and Rachel’s apartment and found no drug paraphernalia (Hmmm? This does not jive with what was written in one of Daniel’s earliest letters).

A photograph was shown of a laptop and power cords  in a backpack (different from the black one discussed earlier).  This part confused me a bit.  It sounded like the officer was saying this was Sam’s laptop and it was found in David Buffett’s (Rachel’s father) car.

No cross examination.

MMTVL – Huh?? Can we go back a bit? Did you just say that Sam’s laptop was found in Rachel’s dad’s car?

4) Dana Potts: He was in charge of looking for human remains in the El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach.  A photograph was shown of Officer Potts next to a human skull lying on the ground. Later identified as belonging to Sam Herr, the skull had been ravaged by animals and insects.  Sam’s hand and forearm were never found.

No cross examination.

MMTVL has no questions.

5) Jean Putinare (I KNOW I’m spelling this wrong): She works in the OC crime lab. Okay, here is where the DNA evidence came in.  Not that anyone is surprised, but Sam’s DNA was found on some of the items contained in the black backpack, the one found in the backyard of the Wozniak’s neighbors.

She also tested a 38mm handgun for DNA.  A mixture of DNA from Tim and Daniel Wozniak was found on the gun and its case.  Tim Wozniak had turned the gun over to the Costa Mesa Police Department. It was registered to Daryl Wozniak, Daniel’s dad.

No cross examination.

MMTVL – Uhhh…since the gun belonged to Daryl Wozniak, is it possible this DNA has been on it for years? Perhaps Tim and Daniel had been taken for shooting lessons when they were teens…? (Editor Matt’s comment: “Depends on the sample from which they got the DNA. Skin breaks down quickly.” He’s got a point.)  Oh let’s be honest – we all see that Matt Murphy’s got a slam dunk going here. 

6) Tomas Matsudaira: Orange County Forensics guy who does the “matching spent bullet cartridges to guns” business.  All the cartridges found were from the 38mm handgun with the Wozniak DNA on it. Three were tested. The two from the backpack and one that was found in the theatre attic near Sam’s body.

No cross examination.

MMTVL puts head down on “TV defense table” and waves a small white flag.

7) Ed Everette: Another Costa Mesa Police Department detective.  This guy was busy!

  • Watched ATMs in Long Beach for activity on Sam’s bank card.
  • Interviewed Wesley Freilich and learned that Daniel had given him the ATM card.
  • Canvased the Camden Martinique Apartments trying to find a connection between any of its residents and the city of Long Beach (Daniel grew up in LB).
  • Somehow tracked down an address for a place in Long Beach that later turned out to be Noah Buffett’s apartment.
  • Went to the address, and thinking it was a business, he just walked right in the front door.  It was actually a converted loft. Daniel was there with Rachel, Noah and their mother. Daniel looked at Detective Everette and said, “How did you find me?”
  • Daniel asked to talk to the police outside.  Everette said Daniel appeared nervous and was trembling as he told the police that he’d last seen Sam Herr when Sam and an “unknown man” dropped him off in the afternoon after Sam had supposedly helped Daniel to move some furniture at the Liberty Theatre.
  • Everette also said that at one point, Rachel came outside, too, and he suspected she’d been listening at the door before that.  He wondered why she was so unconcerned that the police were questioning her fiancé.

Now we finally get some cross examination! Scott Sanders asked if there were any notes or recordings of the conversation he’d had with Daniel outside the loft. Everette said no. Scott didn’t really debate anything the detective had said, but when he asked Everette about his own feelings toward Rachel Buffett, the response was a doozy:

“She should be sitting here right next to Mr. Wozniak.”

MMTVL – That statement doesn’t do anything to make Daniel look LESS guilty, but it was as close as the defense had come to a win.

This was the last witness of the day.

The first witness on Monday would be Daniel’s brother, Tim Wozniak.

“Guilty Part Four” will be coming your way as soon as possible.  I’m sorry that I can’t tell you how many parts there will be in total.  It’s not like you don’t know how the story ends, right?

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