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Posted by Fay Arfa | Nov 01, 2015 | 0 Comments

SANTA ANA, Calif. – The Honorable John D. Conley found today that the accusations of outrageous governmental conduct by the Orange County District Attorney's Office (OCDA) were untrue. Several other motions filed by the Deputy Public Defender Scott Sanders in People v. Daniel Wozniak, including the “Motion to Dismiss the Death Penalty” were also denied.

Decision on Motion to Dismiss the Death Penalty

The court issued a 14-page written opinion. The following bullet points are direct quotes from the ruling:

  • Thus in the pending Orange County multiple homicide case of People v. Scott Dekraai 12ZF0128, counsel for Dekraai (Scott Sanders) made many of the same arguments and presented much of the same evidence as he has presented here in the Wozniak case. (page 5)
  • In almost 900 pages in three briefs Defendant makes a system wide attack on the justice system in Orange County, attacking both Orange County law enforcement and Orange County prosecutors. (page 6)
  • However, the defense briefing on this motion has an informal style, more consistent with a university research paper than a legal brief. For example it sometimes cites informal, non-legal sources for facts, eg OC Weekly, Los Angeles Times, websites, a flier from a law school, what comments prosecutors made to the media as reported by the media, testimony in a civil deposition, copies of a civil complaint, letters, emails, etc. It sometimes cites other defendant's own briefs or petitions for habeas corpus (not objective sources) as establishing the facts of that defendant's case. The briefing frequently engages in undisguised speculation. (page 6)
  • Legal writing is skeptical and demanding. Legal writing usually demands that the writer show “hard data” ie proven facts, not what the writer may have read in a newspaper, email, or magazine. (page 7)
  • The brief also has a “call to action” quality which is unusual in a legal brief. It admonishes the District Attorney, calls for reforms, calls for the removal of prosecutors in other cases, poses rhetorical questions, engages in speculation, insults the oppositions, impunes the honesty of the opposition, makes editorial comments and discloses the writer's opinions on various topics. Significantly there is little discussion of the law in the brief's almost 900 pages. (page 7)
  • The defense spends most of its time discussing over 40 other criminal cases and the unusual historical overview. Some of the cases occurred before the Defendant was born, others occurred before both defense counsel became attorneys, a few cases discussed (Goldstein and Leslie White) occurred in Los Angeles County not Orange County. (page 7)
  • This court itself has real concerns about the informality of the defense “evidence” on what happened in the other 40 cases, sometimes going back 30 years. (page )
  • Also it appears to the court (from reading both sides' briefs) that the 40 cases were either guilty pleas or were eventually affirmed on appeal. So defense counsel has tried to develop a “revisionist history” of these cases, to show alleged injustices incurred, despite the fact that the defendants eventually admitted the charges or their convictions were later approved by the appellate courts. (page )
  • The defense here is trying to boot strap alleged misconduct in over 40 other cases to demonstrate that the death penalty should be dismissed for Mr. Wozniak. However, the appellate courts have been uniform in stating that the outrageous government misconduct doctrine cannot be based on violation of others persons' rights, ie it cannot be asserted vicariously. (page )
  • This court finds that defendant failed to show that outrageous government misconduct occurred in his own case. (page 13)

Case Facts

Wozniak was indicted on May 3, 2012, by the Orange County Grand Jury for using a firearm to murder his neighbor for financial gain and murdering the victim's friend in an effort to derail the investigation by framing the first victim. Wozniak was charged May 28, 2010, with two felony counts of special circumstances murder with special circumstance sentencing enhancements for committing multiple murders, murder for financial gain, and a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death. The OCDA special circumstances committee met June 10, 2010, and decided to seek the death penalty in this case.

Prior to May 21, 2010, Wozniak is accused of plotting the murder of his neighbor, 26-year-old, decorated military veteran Samuel Herr, who lived in the same apartment complex with the intention of stealing the victim's substantial savings he earned for serving his country. On the afternoon of May 21, 2010, Wozniak is accused of luring Herr from their Costa Mesa apartment complex and driving him to the theater facility at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base. Once inside the theater, Wozniak is accused of murdering Herr by shooting him twice in the head, leaving Herr's body in the theater, and stealing the victim's ATM card, wallet, and cell phone.

Later that evening, Wozniak is accused of using Herr's cell phone to text message Herr's friend, 23-year-old Juri “Julie” Kibuishi. Wozniak is accused of pretending to be Herr in the text messages and arranging with Kibuishi to come to Herr's Costa Mesa apartment. Wozniak is accused of meeting her at the door of Herr's apartment and luring her inside into the bedroom, where he murdered her by shooting her twice in the head. Wozniak is accused of then partially removing Kibuishi's clothing to stage the crime scene to appear as though the victim had been sexually assaulted.

On the afternoon of May 22, 2010, Wozniak is accused of returning to the theater, cutting off Herr's clothes and dismembering the victim's body by removing his head, left arm, and the lower portion of his right arm. He is accused of leaving the victim's torso and legs in the theater and taking the dismembered body parts to discard them in El Dorado Park Nature Center in Long Beach. Following the two murders, Wozniak is accused of giving Herr's ATM card to a 17-year-old acquaintance and instructing the minor to withdraw money from the victim's account at various ATMs in Long Beach.

This case was investigated by the Costa Mesa Police Department (CMPD) and is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy of the OCDA's Homicide Unit.

A jury trial date was scheduled numerous times by the Honorable James A. Stotler to proceed as early as Oct. 4, 2013, and most recently by Judge Conley for Oct. 2, 2015.

Motions Filed by Defense Counsel – All Denied by Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court

In January 2015, Sanders filed a motion to recuse the OCDA from litigating the Wozniak case. On Jan. 27, 2015, Judge Stotler recused himself, citing he could no longer be impartial due to Sanders' accusations of misconduct for the last four years and inciting the OCDA, who merely responds.

On Jan. 29, 2015, Judge Conley is appointed to preside over the Wozniak case.

On Feb. 5, 2015, Sanders filed a motion of disqualification against Judge Conley. On Feb. 11, 2015, Judge Conley denied the motion and found no basis for his disqualification. On Feb. 24, 2015, the matter was sent to the Honorable Kevin Brazile in Los Angeles County Superior Court to determine the motion. Judge Brazile denied the motion on March 9, 2015, and found no grounds to recuse Judge Conley.

On April 3, 2015, the District Court of Appeals (DCA) summarily denied the writ filed by Sanders to appeal Judge Brazile's ruling and refused to hear the motion.

On April 13, 2015, Sanders filed for a petition for review of the DCA denial to the California Supreme Court. The petition was denied July 4, 2015.

On July 31, 2015, the January motion to recuse the OCDA was denied by Judge Conley.

On Aug. 7, 2015, Sanders' motion to compel discovery from MSNBC for the Lockup episode featuring Wozniak was denied, and MSNBC's motion to quash subpoenas by Sanders was granted by Judge Conley. In Sanders' motion, he accused an MSNBC producer of colluding with the prosecution and the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD) to violate Wozniak's 6thAmendment right.

On Aug. 26, 2015, Sanders filed a motion to dismiss the death penalty due to outrageous governmental conduct motion against the OCDA.

On Sept. 11, 2015, Sanders filed a second motion to reconsider recusal of the OCDA and Murphy.

On Sept. 15, 2015, Judge Conley and the Honorable Walt Schwarm filed motions to quash the subpoenas, which were sent to the Honorable Gregg L. Prickett on Sept. 18, 2015.

On Sept. 22, 2015, Sanders filed a motion of disqualification against Judge Prickett, and two days later, filed another motion of disqualification against Judge Conley.

On Sept. 25, 2015, Judge Prickett denied the motion finding no basis for his disqualification.

On Oct. 2, 2015, the DCA summarily denied the writ filed by Sanders to appeal Judge Prickett's denial of his disqualification. That same day, Judge Conley denied the motion and found no basis for his disqualification.

On Oct. 6, 2015, Sanders filed for a petition for review of Judge Prickett's denial to recuse himself to the California Supreme Court. The petition was outright refused Oct 14, 2015.

On Oct. 6, 2015, Judge Conley and Judge Schwarm's motion to quash the subpoenas filed by Sanders were granted by Judge Prickett.

On Oct. 13, 2015, the DCA summarily denied the writ filed by Sanders to appeal Judge Conley's denial of his disqualification.

On Oct. 27, 2015, the September motion to recuse the OCDA was denied by Judge Conley.

On Oct. 29, 2015, the California Supreme Court denied Sanders' petition for review of DCA's denial to appeal Judge Conley's denial of his disqualification.

Today, Oct. 30, 2015, Judge Conley ruled on the August motion to dismiss the death penalty due to outrageous governmental conduct. Judge Conley denied the motion and found that the OCDA committed no misconduct in People v. Wozniak.

*Multiple motions filed inPeople v. Daniel Wozniakdenied including “Motion to Dismiss the Death Penalty”

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 12ZF0137 / October 30, 2015

About the Author

Fay Arfa

Fay Arfa has the distinction of being Certified as a Specialist in two separate areas of law – Criminal Law as well as Appellate Law – by the California State Bar, Board of Specialization. The National Board of Trial Advocacy has also awarded her a board Certification in Criminal Trial Advocacy. ...


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