SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California man who killed two people and dismembered one of them as part of a plot to steal money to pay for his wedding and honeymoon was sentenced to death Friday.
Orange County Superior Court Judge John Conley followed the recommendation of a jury that in January decided that Daniel Patrick Wozniak, 32, should be put to death after deliberating for just an hour. Jurors had convicted Wozniak of the murders in December.
"At the cost of two human lives, the defendant chose not to get married inexpensively or to defer his honeymoon," Conley said. "He wanted to do it in style, and he was willing to kill two people he knew to accomplish this."
Wozniak was debt-ridden in 2010 when he shot a neighbor, Samuel Herr of Costa Mesa, to steal $50,000 the Army veteran had saved from service in Afghanistan, prosecutors said.
Wozniak then used a ruse to kill Herr's friend, Julie Kibuishi, and tried to make it appear Herr had raped and killed her, then fled, prosecutors said. He also dumped Herr's dismembered body in a park.
The scheme unraveled, and Wozniak was arrested days later
Conley revisited many of the case's grisly details before the sentencing. "Suffice it to say that even his defense attorney was constrained to calling it horrible, terrible and horrific," the judge said Friday.
The likelihood Wozniak will be executed anytime soon is slim because of challenges over the California's death penalty. No one has been put to death since 2006, and there are nearly 750 inmates on death row at San Quentin, where he is now headed.
As some of his son's fellow veterans of Afghanistan stood at his side, Herr's father, Steve Herr, said in court Friday that it's unfortunate the execution won't come quickly. "You Dan are a coward and a poster boy for the need for an effective death penalty in California," Herr said.