Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

An Orange County Superior Court judge Monday dealt a setback to a convicted Costa Mesa killer, who wanted more time to make the case that he did not get a fair trial and should not possibly face the death penalty.

Orange County Superior Court Judge John Conley Monday granted a motion by attorneys for Orange County to quash defense subpoenas for more information about the use of an informant in the case against Daniel Patrick Wozniak, who was found guilty of killing two people.

Last month, Conley granted an evidentiary hearing into allegations that informant Fernando Perez was improperly used to solicit incriminating evidence against Wozniak while the two were jailed together.

The evidentiary hearing was triggered by the recent discovery of an internal administrative log that detailed how sheriff’s investigators handled informants. Wozniak’s attorney, Scott Sanders, argued that he needed subpoenas to further investigate whether his client’s Eighth Amendment rights were violated by having Perez pump Wozniak for more information about his case, which would be illegal since the killer was already represented by a lawyer.

Perez, however, could pass on any statements Wozniak volunteered without any prompting.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy argued that Perez’s contact with Wozniak was irrelevant, and Conley agreed, since Perez never testified in Wozniak’s trial. Murphy said prosecutors had no interest in using Perez as a witness in the trial because Wozniak had confessed and Perez offered nothing new.

Sanders focused much of his argument on a deputy who earlier testified in an evidentiary hearing related to another convicted killer that he did not have much to do with Perez. Sanders argued that the administrative log indicated otherwise and that the deputy ordered officials to read all of Wozniak’s mail — incoming and outgoing — after talking to Perez.

Murphy argued that it is routine for prosecutors to seek a “mail cover” of defendants in murder trials to see if they say something incriminating in their correspondence. Prosecutors handed over all of the mail to defense attorneys shortly before his trial, but that hardly mattered since Wozniak couldn’t have been surprised by his own correspondence as if it were some other type of evidence against him, Murphy argued.

Conley set a sentencing date of Sept. 23. The judge will also consider Sanders’ motion for a new trial and a motion to have the death penalty set aside on that date.

Wozniak was scheduled to be sentenced last month, six years after the killings of 26-year-old Samuel Eliezer Herr and 23-year-old Julie Kibuishi.

Wozniak was deep in debt in May 2010, facing eviction and without money for his pending wedding, when he concocted a plan to kill his neighbor, Herr, and throw police off the trail by making it look like Herr murdered and raped his female friend, Murphy argued at trial.

Wozniak, who grew up in Long Beach, further tried to confound investigators by dismembering his first victim and dumping the body parts in the El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach, Murphy said.

— Wire reports 

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