Jury convicts double murderer’s former fiancee of being an accessory after the fact

An Orange County jury on Wednesday found the former fiancee of a convicted double murderer guilty of lying to police to help her partner try and get away with his crimes.

Rachel Buffett, 31, was convicted on two counts of being an accessory after the fact following the Costa Mesa slayings.

She was immediately taken into custody, according to the Associated Press.

Buffett is scheduled to return to court Nov. 8 for sentencing. She faces up to three years and eight months in state prison.

In May 2010, her fiance, Daniel Wozniak, needed money for rent and their upcoming wedding and honeymoon.

Wozniak, a community theater actor, plotted to kill Sam Herr, 26, his Costa Mesa neighbor, and Herr’s friend Juri “Julie” Kibuishi, 23, prosecutors said.

The families of Wozniak’s victims had said they were frustrated Buffett hadn’t been held accountable for what authorities believe were lies to police about Kibushi’s death.

Last week, family members sat in Judge Sheila Hanson’s courtroom to hear opening statements from Matt Murphy, senior deputy district attorney, and David Medina, Buffett’s defense attorney.

Murphy alleged Buffett lied, dodged questions and changed her story during interviews with detectives who told her they believed Wozniak was involved in the two killings.

Medina painted Buffett as a victim who fell prey to Wozniak’s lies. He called Buffett a “star witness” who offered “boatloads” of incriminating evidence against Woznaik.

In May 2010, Wozniak plotted to kill Herr to steal $62,000 that Herr had saved from serving in the Army in Afghanistan, Murphy said.

Wozniak’s Google searches showed pressure was starting to build as his wedding date with Buffett drew nearer, Murphy said.

His searches in May included “best all-inclusive sandals,” beach and theater destinations, “how to fake thumbprints,” “how loud shotgun” and “how to hide a body,” the prosecutor said.

After shooting Herr at a Los Alamitos theater, Wozniak used Herr’s phone to lure Kibuishi to Herr’s apartment, where Wozniak shot her twice in the head, Murphy told jurors.

After performing in a play, Wozniak dismembered Herr’s body so he could hide it at El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach. He staged the scene of Kibuishi’s slaying to appear as though Herr had raped her and fled, Murphy said.

Wozniak was arrested at his bachelor party in Huntington Beach days after the killings. ATM withdrawals from Herr’s bank account led police to him.

Police said Wozniak confessed to both slayings after he called Buffett from jail.

Wozniak, now 34, was convicted in December 2015 of two counts of murder and was later sentenced to death.

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