Ex-Disney Princess Lied to Police Hoping to Help Actor Fiancé Get Away with Double-Murder
Rachel Buffett was found guilty of two counts of being an accessory after the fact in the murders of Afghanistan veteran Sam Herr, 26, and 23-year-old Juri “Julie” Kibuishi
The former fiancée of a California theater actor who murdered an Afghanistan War veteran and his friend in 2010 was convicted Wednesday of lying to police in an attempt to protect him from prosecution, PEOPLE confirms.
Rachel Buffett was found guilty of two counts of being an accessory after the fact in the murders of veteran Sam Herr, 26, and 23-year-old Juri “Julie” Kibuishi, a college student studying fashion. Both were fatally shot by actor Daniel Wozniak.
During the trial, prosecutors alleged that Buffett purposefully lied to police on multiple occasions and changed her story to protect Wozniak, the Orange County Register reported.
Prosecutor Matt Murphy tells PEOPLE Buffett lied to police at least 20 times, saying, “She lies repeatedly. There are little lies and big lies.”
Buffett’s defense attorney David Medina argued that his client had no knowledge of the murders.
“She did not know what Dan’s involvement was,” he told the jury, according to the Register. “She did not know what Dan had done.”
Buffett, 31, faces up to 44 months in prison at her sentencing, which is scheduled for Oct. 8.
The murders were as gruesome as they were surprising.
In May of 2010, Kibuishi’s body was discovered in his bedroom in his Costa Mesa, California home. Kibuishi had — like Herr — been shot twice in the head.
Days later, Herr’s decapitated remains were found scattered around the nearby El Dorado Nature Center. His torso had been left behind in the theater where he was shot.
Prosecutors contended that Wozniak — who was quickly arrested — was so desperate for money for rent and his upcoming wedding to Buffett that in a get-rich-quick plot he killed Herr, who lived near him in the Camden Martinique apartment complex in Costa Mesa.
Wozniak’s plan was to clean out the $62,000 that Herr had in his bank account, earned from his deployment to Afghanistan.
Just hours after Herr’s killing, Wozniak performed as the lead in the local play Nine at the Hunger Artists Theatre Company in Fullerton, California.
Later that night, in an attempt to throw off the police, Wozniak lured an unsuspecting Kibuishi into Herr’s bedroom and shot her twice in the head before staging the crime scene to make it look like Herr had sexually assaulted her.
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Wozniak eventually confessed to police, saying, “I’m crazy and I did it.”
After Wozniak’s arrest, Buffett went on national television, including NBC’s Dateline, and denied any involvement in the murders.
“I’m innocent and that’s what hurts me most in this whole situation is they’re trying to say I’m something I’m not,” she said.
However, during Wozniak’s murder trial, Costa Mesa Police Lt. Ed Everett testified that he believed Buffett played a larger role. “In my opinion, she should be sitting next to Mr. Wozniak right now,” he said, according to the Orange County Register.
He was sentenced to death in September 2016 and Buffett, a former actress and Disneyland princess, was charged with two counts of being an accessory after the fact and lying to police.
During her trial, acquaintances testified that the couple was acting strangely around the time of the murders.
The couple’s friend, Vylet Randolph, told the jury that on the day Kibuishi’s body was discovered Wozniak was “freaking out” and saying he was the last person to see Herr alive when Buffett allegedly told him, “Your messed up memory is messing up my story,” the Register reports.
Buffett’s defense attorney David Medina tells PEOPLE, “We are currently exploring our options and preparing for the sentencing hearing. We are obviously disappointed with the verdict and Rachel’s family is devastated.”