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Woman pleads not guilty to helping fiance cover up murders

December 26, 2012 | 12:53 pm

A woman accused of helping her former fiance cover up two gruesome murders pleaded not guilty Wednesday to three felonies she faces in connection with the crime.

Prosecutors say aspiring actress Rachel Buffett, 25, lied to police and repeated a fabricated account that Daniel Wozniak, 28, initially told detectives.

Wozniak is charged in the 2010 murders of Orange Coast College students Samuel Herr, 26, and Julie Kibuishi, 23.

At the time of the killings, Wozniak and Buffett were starring in a community theater production of the musical "Nine."

Prosecutors allege that on May 21, 2010, Wozniak lured Herr, his neighbor, to a theater facility at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base, then shot him twice in the head before stealing his ATM, wallet and cellphone.

Later that evening, Wozniak allegedly used Herr's cellphone to send a text message to Kibuishi, a friend of Herr's, to lure her to his apartment.

Authorities believe Wozniak shot Kibuishi twice in the head, and then removed some of her clothing to make it look like she was sexually assaulted.

Prosecutors say Wozniak later returned to the theater, where he allegedly cut off Herr's head, left arm and right hand before dispersing the body parts at a theater and in a local park.

Wozniak was arrested on May 26, 2010, at his bachelor party in Huntington Beach, after police traced money taken from Herr's account to him.

Prosecutors say that Wozniak wanted to steal Herr's savings account to pay for his wedding to Buffett and their honeymoon.

Wozniak has pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of special-circumstances murder and is still awaiting trial. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

Buffett was arrested Nov. 20 on suspicion of being an accessory to murder after the fact.

She faces three felony counts of accessory after the fact and is currently free on $1 million bail. Buffett could get a maximum of four years in state prison if convicted.

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-- Times Community News

Video: At a news conference in Long Beach earlier this month, Rachel Buffett discusses the charges she's facing. Credit: Ruben Vives / Los Angeles Times

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