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Death penalty sought in Costa Mesa murders

June 10, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Prosecutors in Orange County plan to seek the death penalty if a stage actor accused of beheading his neighbor and killing a woman is convicted. "She didn't go anywhere that was dangerous or anything," said Junko Kibuishi, Julie Kibuishi's mother.

Speaking out for the first time since the murder of her daughter, Julie Kibuishi's mother recalls their last conversation.

"What I told her was, 'You better leave early because the traffic is going to be hard to go to Long Beach,' and that was the last words I told her," said Kibuishi.

It wasn't long after that phone call that the 23-year-old Orange Coast College student would be shot dead at an apartment in Costa Mesa, the home of her friend, 26-year-old Samuel Herr.

Authorities say both Herr and Kibuishi were shot execution-style. It is believed the motive was financial gain by the suspect, 26-year-old Daniel Patrick Wozniak.

Investigators said Wozniak, an aspiring actor, killed Herr first, taking his cell phone and ATM card.

Wozniak later allegedly lured Julie Kibuishi to Herr's apartment using Herr's cell phone, then killed Kibuishi, making it appear as if she were sexually assaulted.

"Some murders are committed with such a depraved heart and in such a callous manner that the only punishment that fits the crime is the death penalty," said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.

Rackauckas says his staff is seeking the death penalty in this case for many reasons. Among them, Wozniak's callous ability to perform in a play after the killings and attend a party celebrating his upcoming wedding.

"It's just horrible to even think that anybody in this world can even do, and even derive this kind of plan," said Taka Kibuishi, Julie's brother.

Kibuishi's brother says the family is pleased with the D.A.'s decision and is eager to put all of this behind them.

"Mentally we are just trying to heal by remembering Julie, doing things for her, memorials, whatever we can. If we just think about 'why?' and ask the questions 'why?' every day, that's just going to tear us all apart. So we are trying to stay away from that," said Taka Kibuishi.

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