Ex-fi­ancee of O.C. killer gets 32 months

Rachel Buf­fett was ac­cused of ly­ing to pro­tect mur­derer Daniel Woz­niak.

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - By Ju­lia Sclafani ju­lia.sclafani @la­times.com Sclafani writes for Times Com­mu­nity News.

The for­mer fi­ancee of con­victed mur­derer Daniel Woz­niak was sen­tenced Thurs­day to 32 months in jail for be­ing an ac­ces­sory af­ter the fact in two slay­ings he com­mit­ted in 2010.

Rachel Buf­fett was ac­cused of ly­ing to and mis­lead­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tors about what Woz­niak had done and what she knew. Au­thor­i­ties said he con­fessed to both killings af­ter he called her from jail.

Buf­fett re­ceived a sen­tence of two years on the first count and eight months on the sec­ond. She will re­ceive credit for time al­ready served and for good con­duct. The last six months of her sen­tence will be served on pro­ba­tion.

Buf­fett is ex­pected to serve be­tween one and two years in Or­ange County Jail, said Se­nior Deputy Dist. Atty. Matt Mur­phy.

At Buf­fett’s sen­tenc­ing hear­ing in Or­ange County Su­pe­rior Court in Santa Ana, Judge Sheila Han­son heard state­ments from the par­ents of Woz­niak’s vic­tims, Sam Herr, 26, of Costa Mesa and Juri “Julie” Kibuishi, 23, of Irvine, as well as a state­ment from Buf­fett.

“Rachel Buf­fett lied to the po­lice, she lied to her friends, she lied to the lo­cal and na­tional news­pa­pers and she lied to the na­tion when she ap­peared on na­tional tele­vi­sion, on the Dr. Phil show and ‘Date­line,’ pro­claim­ing her in­no­cence,” said Herr’s fa­ther, Steve.

Steve Herr im­plored the judge to levy the max­i­mum sen­tence un­der Cal­i­for­nia law, which is 44 months.

“Rachel knew ex­actly what she was do­ing. She could have saved us eight years and six months of grief,” Herr said.

“Our child didn’t have to be taken away,” said Kibuishi’s mother, June. “She had so much she wanted to ac­com­plish.”

“All th­ese years, have you shown re­morse?” June Kibuishi said to Buf­fett. “No, none.”

Buf­fett read a state­ment say­ing, “I’ve al­ways wanted to ex­press my con­do­lences to the Herr and Kibuishi fam­ily,” adding that she didn’t ex­tend her sym­pa­thy ear­lier be­cause she didn’t be­lieve they would want to hear from her.

“I hope my si­lence hasn’t been in­ter­preted as cal­lous,” Buf­fett said. “I wish Sam and Julie were still here. I wish I had never met Daniel Woz­niak.”

Han­son said she took into con­sid­er­a­tion that, while Buf­fett had no pre­vi­ous ar­rests, she also never ac­knowl­edged ly­ing to in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

“I’m struck by feel­ing that you have never ap­pre­ci­ated the grav­ity of the crimes that you com­mit­ted,” Han­son said.

“You lied,” she said, adding that the ev­i­dence “leads the court to be­lieve you planned those state­ments” to in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Woz­niak, a com­mu­nity the­ater ac­tor from Costa Mesa, was found guilty in De­cem­ber 2015 of mur­der­ing Sam Herr and Julie Kibuishi in May 2010.

Pros­e­cu­tors said Woz­niak was des­per­ate for cash to cover rent and his up­com­ing wed­ding, so he hatched a plan to kill Herr and ac­cess the bank ac­count in which Herr had saved thou­sands of dol­lars from his Army ser­vice.

Af­ter shoot­ing Herr in the at­tic of a Los Alami­tos the­ater be­fore a sched­uled show, Woz­niak used Herr’s phone to lure Kibuishi to Herr’s apart­ment, where Woz­niak shot her twice in the head, au­thor­i­ties said.

Af­ter per­form­ing in a play, Woz­niak dis­mem­bered Herr’s body so he could hide the pieces at El Do­rado Na­ture Cen­ter in Long Beach, pros­e­cu­tors said. He then staged Kibuishi’s body to ap­pear that Herr had lured her to his apart­ment and raped her be­fore flee­ing.

Po­lice ar­rested Woz­niak at his bach­e­lor party days af­ter the killings, af­ter ATM with­drawals from Herr’s ac­count led them to him.

Joshua Su­dock Pool

DANIEL WOZ­NIAK in court in 2015. He was con­victed of killing Sam Herr and Juri “Julie” Kibuishi.

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