Transcripts: Costa Mesa man confesses to killings
A Costa Mesa murder defendant told police that he killed two people in 2010 to gain access to one of his victim’s bank accounts, according to Orange County Grand Jury transcripts released Friday.
Within a Costa Mesa police interview room Daniel Patrick Wozniak, 28, confessed that he killed Orange Coast College students Samuel Herr, 26, and Juri “Julie” Kibuishi, 23, according to the transcripts.
“I’m crazy and I did it” were the first words Wozniak said, Det. Mike Delgadillo testified May 3 before the grand jury.
“He said, ‘I killed Sam first, and then I killed Julie,’” Delgadillo said. “He said it was all about the money. It was 100% about the money.”
Wozniak, a community theater actor about to marry his fiancée, was twice read his Miranda rights to protect him against self-incrimination, according to the court papers.
Wozniak told police that he took Herr, his neighbor in an apartment complex on Pinecreek Drive, to the Liberty Theater on the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base on May 21 under the pretense of Herr helping him move some furniture, according to the court documents.
While Herr was bending over a piece of furniture that was in the attic, Wozniak told police that he shot Herr in the back of the head with a .38 caliber semi-automatic pistol he took from his father.
“At that point Sam fell to his knees, looked up at Mr. Wozniak and said, ‘I have just been — something happened. I just got electrocuted,’” Delgadillo said.
Wozniak told police he tried to shoot him again, but the gun jammed. After clearing the jammed round, Wozniak told police he shot Herr once in the temple with Herr looking up at him.
Afterward, he allegedly left Herr’s body in the attic and met with a 17-year-old boy he knew through community theater. Wozniak asked the boy to use Herr’s account at different ATMs.
Herr had about $50,000 following his Army service as a combat veteran in Afghanistan. Wozniak planned to take $400 every few days, police told grand jurors.
The next day, Wozniak told police that he returned to the theater’s attic with an ax and a saw — taken from his future in-laws’ backyard — and a pair of scissors from the barber shop on the base, and began dismembering Herr’s remains. Authorities said Wozniak disposed of some of Herr’s body parts in a park in Long Beach and left others in the Los Alamitos theater.
When police discovered some of Herr’s remains May 27 in the attic, they saw an identifying tattoo of a heart and rose with a banner and the words “mom” and “dad.”
Prosecutor Matt Murphy said that although Wozniak removed Herr’s hands and head, his plan was “kind of silly” because Herr’s DNA was in military databases and his identifying tattoos were left untouched.
Jurors also heard testimony about and reviewed photos of a series of text messages Wozniak — pretending to be Herr — sent to Kibuishi using Herr’s phone May 21 in the hours after Herr’s slaying. The Irvine resident was Herr’s friend and tutor at OCC, and in the message Wozniak pleaded with her to come to Herr’s apartment to address an urgent matter.
“Can you come over tonight at midnight alone. Going out for a bit. Very upset. Need to talk” is one of several text messages Det. Jose Morales read to the grand jurors.
Kibuishi repeatedly texted that she and Herr were friends, “like brother and sis,” and that she would be there for him.
When Kibuishi arrived that evening, Wozniak told police that he told her there was a stain on Herr’s bed that Herr was concerned about. When Kibuishi bent over the bed to look at the stain, Wozniak told police he shot her twice in the back of the head with the same pistol he used to kill Herr, according to the transcripts.
Prosecutors contend that Wozniak staged the scene to look like a sexual assault in an effort to deter investigators into thinking Herr did it and was on the run.
Herr’s father discovered Kibuishi’s body the evening of May 22 and called police, who testified that her body was kneeling by the bed with her face on it. Police said on the back of her sweatshirt, written in black marker, were the words “all yours, [expletive] you.”
Police arrested Wozniak a few days later, on May 26, initially on suspicion of fraudulently using Herr’s ATM cards. The actor was taken in custody while at his bachelor party at a Huntington Beach restaurant, the documents show.
Later in the police interview, “I asked [Wozniak] what was going on in his mind,” Delgadillo told jurors, “and he said he was just kind of laughing and smiling.”
Before Herr’s body parts were discovered, Herr was the initial suspect in Kibuishi’s killing. Part of the reason was because in 2002, he faced murder charges for allegedly being among a group of 15 men accused of luring a man into a park before beating and stabbing him to death. Herr was acquitted and cleared of wrongdoing in the case.
Earlier this month, prosecutors chose to expedite Wozniak’s trial by foregoing a court hearing with a grand jury indictment. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case.
Wozniak has pleaded not guilty to the crimes. He is next expected to be in court Aug. 24.
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