SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — Parents waiting nearly five years to see a man suspected of killing their son face trial have received another setback in the case after a judge recused himself Tuesday.
Daniel Patrick Wozniak is charged in connection with the deaths of 26-year-old Samuel Eliezer Herr, 26, and Juri Julie Kibuishi, 23, of Irvine.
Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy initially sought Wozniak’s indictment in 2010, he said at the time to speed up the legal process.
But Steve and Raquel Herr say they’ve been waiting ever since for Wozniak to go to trial and were speechless when the judge told them in court he felt he could no longer be impartial and recused himself from the case.
“Four years and eight months, how much more does our family have to go through? I mean, it’s a slap in our face,” Steve Herr said.
According to the family, Wozniak’s defense attorney filed many lengthy motions over the years, accusing prosecutors and sheriff’s officials of misconduct and persuaded the judge to push back the trial date.
They say they finally got the judge to guarantee them a trial date next month, only to hear shocking news Tuesday.
The judge cited frustration with the defense attorney and his thousands of pages in motions during his announcement.
“He read off a prepared statement,” Steve Herr said. “I asked, ‘Can I please respond?’ He said, ‘That’s it, it’s over… I’m out of it now.’ He walked away.”
It caused this father to storm out of the courtroom.
“It’s an embarrassment to our justice system,” Herr said.
“He gave us his word we’re going on trial Feb. 13. … Now we feel totally abandoned by him,” Raquel Herr added.
Prosecutors allege Wozniak killed Herr, his former neighbor, at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base. They say he then lured Kibuishi back to Herr’s apartment, fatally shot her and took off some of her clothes to make it appear Herr killed her.
Wozniak then returned to the theater on the military base where he allegedly dismembered the victim and tried to get rid of the body parts in the El Dorado Park Nature Center in Long Beach, according to the D.A.’s Office. Authorities have alleged the second murder was to cover his tracks in the first crime.
Wozniak, a community theater actor, would allegedly go on stage for a production of “Nine” in Fullerton after each slaying, prosecutors say.
He was arrested at his bachelor party at a Huntington Beach restaurant. Authorities allege he killed Herr to steal his savings and pay for his own wedding and honeymoon.
Kibuishi’s relatives told CBS2/KCAL9 they’re speechless and feel helpless after the latest development.
Her parents have battled cancer throughout this court process. And now relatives will need to wait longer so a new judge can catch up on the case.
Wozniak’s attorney had not responded to request for comment.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.