Bye Bye Birdie

Daniel has been on San Quentin’s death row for a couple of months now and he’s settling in quite nicely. It will probably be at least a year or so before there is any action regarding his appeal, which means he won’t be going anywhere for a while.

San Quentin’s condemned unit is a well-run machine. Daniel’s life is much more scheduled now. He’s taking classes regularly, he attends various religious services, and he goes to dental appointments.

Daniel was recently assigned to yard group six, and can go outside every day. He assured me that it is a very safe group, and that’s why he requested it specifically. The inmates in this group aren’t in gangs (or have dropped out of gang life). Yard group six hasn’t had a violent incident in eight years.  Also, Daniel already had a buddy in that group he met when they were both locked up in Orange County.

The condemned unit of San Quentin has a fair and organized yard use system. There are six large outdoor areas on one side of the prison and one smaller outdoor area on another. The inmate groups rotate from day to day, meaning each group will be in the smaller yard once a week. On Daniel’s first day out with the group, they were assigned to the small yard, and even then, he was still impressed with the size.

I was looking forward to hearing all about Daniel’s first outing with his new group. Did he have fun? Were the other inmates nice? Is there a tetherball court?

I may be a little too used to questioning my kids after their first day of school.

But the first thing Daniel told me was how he had come close to getting his first major write-up since being incarcerated.

Uh oh. My mind immediately went on a tangent; graphic scenes from episodes of Oz were playing in my head. Did another inmate come at him with a shiv? What’s a person supposed to do then? You have to defend yourself if another person attacks you with a sharpened ring pop. Maybe he mouthed off to a guard? That didn’t seem like Daniel at all, but if he’d made a joke that wasn’t taken the right way, he could be heading to solitary confinement for the next five years.

“I had a bird in my pocket.”

A pocket bird. I didn’t see that one coming.

Daniel was an amateur magician in his teens, so maybe he was planning to practice tricks in his cell?

Bird-man of San Quentin?

Daniel had noticed a small bird, possibly a sparrow, walking around amongst the thirty or so inmates who had come out for yard. Daniel thought the bird looked injured, and the little guy wasn’t flying at all. He suspected this was a baby that had fallen out of a nearby nest.

Inmates get a sack lunch each day they can bring out to the yard, so Daniel tried to offer the bird a small piece of bread from his sandwich. The little fellow didn’t immediately trust Daniel’s offering. For the next thirty minutes, Daniel calmly followed the bird around the yard’s running track, repeatedly putting out his hand to offer bread.

I asked him if he tried throwing some bread to the bird to gain its trust. He laughed and admitted that was probably a good idea and wished he’d thought of it.

Nonetheless, “Birdie” finally came around (or was just tired of all that walking), and took some bread from Daniel’s hand.  By the end of yard time, this little bird was standing on Daniel’s index finger and eating out of the palm of his hand.

At that point, Daniel decided “Birdie” needed a warm safe place to recuperate for a while. He figured he could make a comfy little bed on the empty shelf in his cell. When yard time ended, he gingerly placed his fine feathered friend in the pocket of his jacket.

They would have made it too if that bird had just laid low in the pocket for a couple of minutes.

When inmates return to their cells after yard time, they go into a small gated area to be handcuffed before entering the prison building again. It’s sort of like a chamber lock system. The inmate stands facing the yard, with his back to the guard. The inmate’s hands are behind his back, where the guard can see them, waiting to be cuffed.

The guard who was preparing to cuff Daniel was, rightfully, taken aback when Daniel’s jacket pocket starting jumping around. Daniel is lucky the guy remained calm and didn’t shoot him immediately. Instead he asked Daniel what the deal was and learned about the bird in the pocket. Despite Daniel’s urge to give the bird a good home, the guard told him he couldn’t bring a bird into the prison.

Oh well. It was a nice thought. Daniel took the bird out of his pocket and put it on the ground, and “Birdie” walked back toward the yard. Daniel plans to keep an eye out for him, so he can share his lunch.

Of course I know trying to rescue a baby bird does not make up for committing murder. I don’t think there is anything Daniel could do that would redeem him in that regard. But I wanted to share this story because it shows the side of Daniel Wozniak most don’t get to see, or don’t believe exists. This is the Daniel I know. This is my friend.

31 thoughts on “Bye Bye Birdie”

  1. I know that people make mistakes and have to pay for them. I am glad he tried to help the little bird. Not all who commit murder are evil entirely. It is a lapse of judgment at that moment. Daniel can be redeemed through Jesus Christ. From what it sounds like he is on that path.

    1. Thank you for the comment. I agree that committing an evil deed doesn’t necessarily mean the person is evil. Daniel is a religious person and would agree with you.

      1. Bullshit

        The guy didnt steal a bicycle. .he killed two people.

        Thats called murder..

        Mistake is getting a phone number wrong or turning left instead of right.!!

        Committing a murder like a premeditated dismemberment of a human being for plan old greed is something that most of us dont have in us.

        You have to have a black soul.

        And one evil deed …means your Evil!!!!

        Thank god the bird was saved .
        From Daniel.
        Daniel doesnt save life ..he kills life.

        How ironic the little bird is..
        Rescued from Daniels hands and set free.

        1. That story was filled with symbolism, wasn’t it? Whether I agree with your interpretation or not, I welcome comments that clearly show an in depth reading of the piece.

          1. An interesting story, however, Wozniak is justifiably on death row for a remorseless, brutal double murder in which he horrifically dismembered one victim and interfered with another.
            Please explain…”Did he have fun?”
            Wozniak’s new friends include “Pliers” Bittaker,”the Sunset Slayer” and Charles Ng. Please explain…”Were the other inmates nice?”

          2. That was merely a joke referencing how I’m more used to questioning my kids about their day at a new school than I am questioning a prison inmate about his yard time. I understand that dark humor isn’t for everyone.

    2. Nonsense! This Jesus Christ fellow may offer redemption, but a character of fiction has no influence over the law. And what of the seventh of the ten commandments?
      ‘A lapse of judgement’? Don’t you mean two lapses? Was his butchering of his first victim a lapse of judgement also?
      Wozniak is entirely evil and there will never be redemption.

    1. As of right now, she’s in court on January 27th. We’ll see if her trial starts or if there is another postponement.

      Readers – What do you think? Will Rachel go to trial? Will she end up taking a plea deal?

  2. I think it’s a mystery about what Rachel will do. She will likely be offered the same deal that Tim got of three years probation. Although, Tim decided to beat his girlfriend and get a felony domestic violence charge six days after his guilty plea. He is now in a residential treatment anger management program for six months.

    Rachel has argued that she is innocent for so long, she could continue that fight. If she pleads guilty, she will have a felony conviction on her record but only three years probation. Because of the crowded jails and weak justice system, if she goes to trial and is found guilty, she could get the same sentence as if she accepted the deal. Going to trial also gives her the option of being found not guilty, although she has never raised a defense for why she lied.

    1. I haven’t written much about Tim and his current situation out of respect to Daniel and his mother. Tim’s current legal difficulties aren’t related to Daniel’s case, and I feel he should be able to communicate with me as a supportive and trustworthy friend. I’m quite aware of Tim’s current situation – which is more complicated than you’re aware.

      Rachel – I’m as curious as you are. I was in court when her lawyer requested another continuance. If Rachel is completely innocent (which I do not believe), then I guess I understand the need to continue to fight and go to trial. I believe she offered a defense while on the Dr. Phil show. She claimed she wasn’t lying to the police, she was just repeating what Daniel told her. So, that means the real question is – if she’s not innocent, why continue to fight?

  3. Just saw Rachel on Dr. Phil. I personally felt she was innocent. I haven’t ready any of your other posts or seen anything other than Dr. Phil though. Feel free to give me your personal opinion

    1. The opinions about Rachel are some of the most polarizing in this case. My opinion is that Rachel was involved, but I don’t think she knew in advance that Sam was in danger that day. However, I also don’t believe Sam’s murder was premeditated or an attempt to steal money.

      My beliefs (from trial evidence and personal conversations) are that Rachel was involved AFTER Sam’s murder. Do I have proof of that? No, but I wonder if the police do. I wish I had copies of those jailhouse snitch recordings with Daniel Wozniak from the OC Jail.

  4. You have interesting opinions that are not shared by anyone, not even Dan. You said, you “don’t believe Sam’s murder was premeditated or an attempt to steal money.” The prosecution showed internet searches from four days before Sam’s murder where either Dan or Rachel were searching for cruises and the search terms, “Making sure a body is not found,” “Head gun shot,” “How to hide a body,” and “Quick ways to kill people.”

    How would Dan and Rachel pay for that honeymoon one or both of them was searching for? And why would either of them need to search for ways to kill a person and hide the victim’s body? Premeditation is all over this case. Dan, without any encouragement from anyone said, “It was all just about the money.” Why would he mention money if money was not a motive?

    1. Thank you for the comment, Lauren. I’m not sure where you get your insight into Daniel’s opinions. As for your other questions, you might want to re-read everything I’ve written to date, as it’s all been covered in the blog.

      1. I have read your blog and the questions I ask are not answered anywhere in your blog. Please post the links to your blog posts where you think you have answered these questions.

        You do restate your opinions and never in the media or in your blog has there been a mention of Dan sharing your opinions that the murders were not premeditated and not for money. So, unless you have a comment by Dan that he shares your opinions, I am correct, that your opinions are not shared by Dan. There are no opinions by Dan shared anywhere, not even on your blog.

        Dan’s video confession was initiated by Dan after he had been read his rights on three different occasions. His confession begins with saying that he killed Sam and Julie and that it was 100 percent about the money. You are the only person who have ever spoken publicly about the case who said that the murders were not about money.

        Your opinions that I mentioned that are not shared by anyone are that 1) there is no premeditation and 2) the murders were not about money. You are alone in your opinions. If you have a mention of anyone who agrees with you, even Dan, then go ahead, post a link or quote for that other person’s opinion. Such corroboration is not on any of your social media.

        1. Daniel Letter Question

          Hi Lauren,

          I’m sorry if the blog hasn’t answered all your questions. I hope the book will help a lot more. I guess I better get to work.

          I’m attempting to attach a small segment from Daniel’s first letter to me. Hopefully this works!

          1. WOW!!! That’s so dark! If that is what Dan thinks, then the death penalty may not be enough. Were you shocked when he told you that blatant lie? He is the first person to say that the murders were about money. He was the first person to mention Sam’s murder.

            It is weird that Dan would mention rent being the “only financial problem.” He borrowed $2,000 to pay his rent from Chris and had wanted to borrow, I think, $3,000. Chris told Dan that a loan shark would come after them both if Dan didn’t pay back Chris.

            Dan had MANY financial problems. He had to pay back that loan, he needed to come up with money for his wedding and honeymoon cruise, he needed to pay rent, and, since he and Rachel didn’t have paying jobs, he needed to figure out how to pay for day-to-day expenses.

            To show just how much he wanted Sam’s money, Dan also used Sam’s ATM to pay for his daily expenses, he let Wesley use it to buy pizza, he let Tim try to use it, and he used it to pay for his bachelor party. So why spend Sam’s money if he didn’t need it?

            Dan is disturbed.

            This is an interesting segue from my questions, though. I can understand that you don’t want to answer them and you have not given any hint as to what the answers may be. Maybe it is important for you to keep the content of your book a mystery.

            Dan did plan the murders and that is shown by his web searches and how he lured his victims, Sam and Julie. Dan also committed the murders for money and that is in his confession. Since Dan has never provided any other reason for doing these things and he has never recanted his confession, not even to you based on what you have said and posted, then the fact stands.

            Dan planned and carried out the brutal murders of two innocent people for money.

          2. I wanted you to know that I’m not faking my friendship with Daniel and just making up opinions.

            If even half of what Daniel has told me is true, this case has so many layers and goes so much deeper than money.

            You have some strong feelings about this. You like throwing out a lot of information. You weren’t at the trial and you’ve never spoken with Daniel Wozniak. People might want to consider that when reading your comments.

            I probably have over 200 letters from Daniel. Today I talked to him on the telephone for an hour. Yesterday as well. Also the day before that.

            When the book comes out, you might not believe a word Daniel has told me, but I bet you’ll want to read it.
            And you know what? A lot of it makes more sense than the story sold to the jury.

            BUT please remember – I might believe a different story, but I also still believe Daniel is a murderer.

      2. Those aren’t opinions, those are the facts. Those internet searches were real, tangible pieces of evidence in this case. Also, the fact that him and Rachel were seen scoping out the scene of the crime in advance of Sam’s murder. All signs point to pre-meditation. Daniel may be different now in your eyes because of the relationship you’ve developed with him, but you need to remove your bias when assessing what actually happened 8 years ago. Not who he is today. Those are the facts.

  5. As far as money being/not being the motive, was any evidence presented in court to refute the prosecution’s claim that Daniel was having financial difficulties? And money wasn’t the motive? Employment history, bank account balances, tax records, no debt etc.?

    From reading your blog I have seen some vague references that Daniel had some sort of sales job and IIRC it was a startup company. Was that a regular salary position or was it strictly commission? Do you know how much money Daniel earned in a 12 month period prior to the murders?

    From Daniel’s quote he states “a month or two behind on rent.” As I’m sure you are aware there is a big difference between being behind 1 month versus 2 months, especially if you don’t have any income or not enough to even pay your rent. Let alone a honeymoon cruise.

    Do you know for a fact of any debt Daniel had/didn’t have prior to the murders or are you only taking Daniel’s word?

    I have some questions on your premeditation opinion, but I’m sure you won’t address it, so I won’t bother.

    1. I was actually expecting a LOT more evidence to be shown in the trial regarding Daniel and Rachel’s finances. The DA Matt Murphy barely touched on Daniel’s work history. There was a powerpoint shown that listed Daniel’s bank accounts and those were minimally overdrawn. They didn’t have any credit cards.

      Did Daniel Wozniak have his sh** together as far as finances? No. Well, not as far as I’m concerned. But I know tons of people in the same boat.

      He was always working some sales job (usually insurance) or another.

      The wedding was paid for by Rachel’s parents and Daniel expected people to give cash as wedding presents.

      Here’s a little hint – A small part of this crime does involve a money making opportunity.

      Thank you so much for writing a comment.

      I wanted more. I wanted the defence to show more. I had all the same questions you have.

      1. Defense is spelled d-e-f-e-n-S-e. There is no “c” in defense.
        After reading all the comments on Facebook, I can’t comprehend how you can think your murdering frekking friend is anything but guilty. The premeditation, i.e. searching the web for info on disposing of bodies, his financial situation, his going on stage and singing AFTER committing the murders, his comments to Rachel about being gone, his confession, all lead me to believe he committed the murders.
        Knowing he exposed himself to the death penalty if he confessed, he still confessed. If he didn’t commit the murders, regardless of how he felt about the “real killer,” he would never put himself in a position to be on death row. He has never said he is innocent.
        You are in a unique situation, because of your friendship with him and his apparent trust in you, to write a real thorough book about the crime. Even if you discover, because of your own investigation, that he really did commit these crimes, then you can write about how a seemingly nice guy can do an aboutface and brutalize two innocent people.
        I hope you’re up to the challenge, because you could write something that has social value.
        And you need to use spellcheck.

        1. Hi Sandy,

          I would respectfully request you read the entire blog with the same care you put into looking for my spelling errors (although you can blame my editor on that one – of course everyone makes mistakes). Please note that I’ve never said Daniel Wozniak is innocent. In fact, I’ve said just the opposite in numerous posts. Thank you for leaving the comment.

  6. I don’t understand how anyone would think MM is only stating her own ‘personal opinion’. She writes, talks and has visited with Daniel plenty! Therefore, as a reader, if you’ve read her entire blog would know that her “opinions” are clearly based on the things shes heard (and read) from Daniel.

    1. Thank you so much, Mel.

      And you’re right.

      I believe what Daniel tells me. I know there will be lots of people who won’t believe a word he says. They’ll say he’s a sociopath and a liar, and I guess there is plenty of “evidence” to back up those claims. But I’ve really gotten to know Daniel Wozniak over the past couple of years, and he is a murderer, but he’s not the monster he’s made out to be.

      1. He’s not a monster? He decapitated his “friend.” He blatantly lied to Julie to get her over to the apartment and then he killed her. IF MONEY WASN’T the motive, what was? A thrill killing?

        He is a monster. He is despicable and his acts are heinous.
        He is no better than Manson,

        1. I agree, Daniel’s acts were heinous. But this defintely wasn’t a thrill killing. If people are interested in learning what Daniel says led to this crime, they’ll have to wait for my book.

          Thank you for the comment.

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