The Orange County Grand Jury indicted Daniel Patrick Wozniak on two counts of murder with special circumstances today, concluding secret hearings that could speed up the death penalty trial of the man accused of shooting and dismembering his neighbor at the Liberty theater in Los Alamitos and then killing the victim’s friend to cover up the crime.
The Grand Jury indictment bypasses the preliminary hearing in which the judge determines if there is enough evidence to go to trial. The case has been stalled in the pretrial hearing phase since Wozniak was arrested in May of 2010.
“We want to see justice done in this case, and we wish the case could proceed faster, and, unfortunately, sometimes the defense continues these hearings for the case even though we are ready,” said Susan Kang Schroeder, spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
After listening to testimony, the grand jury concluded that there is enough evidence to charge Wozniak with two felony counts of special circumstances murder with special circumstance sentencing enhancements including multiple murders, murder for financial gain, and the personal discharge of a firearm causing death. Wozniak is being held without bail and will be arraigned on the indictment tomorrow.
Wozniak has pleaded not guilty. His attorney, Scott Sanders of the public defenders office said he could not comment Thursday afternoon.
“There are some murders that are so cruel and done with such a depraved heart that the only justice possible for such a crime is the death penalty,” added Kang Schroeder.
The district attorney’s office convened a panel of experts to determine that this case merited the death penalty.
Wozniak was a community theater actor, who would go on stage for a production of ``Nine'' in Fullerton after each slaying, authorities have alleged.
Wozniak, 28, is accused of shooting his neighbor Samuel Herr inside the Liberty Theater at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base in May of 2010 in order to steal Herr’s savings account. According to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, Wozniak shot Herr at the theater where Wozniak acted and then went to Herr’s apartment in Costa Mesa and lured Herr’s friend Juri “Julie” Kibuishi to the apartment by pretending to be Herr via text message. Police allege that once Kibuishi arrived, Wozniak shot her twice and staged a sexual assault to make it look as though Herr was the killer.
At that point, Herr became the prime suspect in Kibuishi’s death.
According to investigators, Wozniak returned to the Liberty Theater the next day and dismembered Herr, leaving his legs and torso and dumping Herr’s head and arms at the El Dorado Park Nature Center in Long Beach. Investigators also accuse Wozniak of giving Herr’s ATM card to a 17-year-old and asking the boy to withdraw $2,000 for him. The teen was arrested, and Wozniak became the prime suspect in the slaying.
Costa Mesa police arrested Wozniak five days later during his bachelor party at Tsunami in Huntington Beach on the night before his wedding. Investigators believe Wozniak committed the murders to help pay for his wedding.
-The City News Service contributed to this report.