Bad news keeps on coming for Stephen Mark McDaniel, 25, the recent Mercer Law School graduate accused of killing Lauren Giddings, his former neighbor and classmate. This morning a judge found probable cause in the murder case against McDaniel, which will now be bound over to Bibb County Superior Court. The judge also denied bail to Stephen McDaniel, who has been in Bibb County jail since July 1 (on unrelated burglary charges; he also faces kiddie porn charges).
We were fortunate enough to have a reader at this morning’s hearing. Let’s hear what this roving reporter has to say….
Here’s what our correspondent emailed us (we have made minor alterations for clarity and readability):
[T]he person to whom McDaniel allegedly said he could get away with murder was his first-year roommate, a fellow named Thaddeus Money. [A Macon police department] detective said it was when McDaniel first got to Macon, that Mr. Money was his roommate, then [the detective] said it was his first year in law school, around 2008. (I thought this was important because McDaniel went to undergrad at Mercer as well.)
It sounds like the prosecution is taking Money’s testimony to the bank. The names in this case are great (not just Hacksaw McDaniel). The police detective who testified about Thaddeus Money is named David Patterson (given the different spelling, presumably no relation to former New York Governor David Paterson).
Back to our source:
In one statement, Detective Patterson said [the conversation with Thad Money] was right after McDaniel moved to town. Since he went to Mercer undergrad, I would put that around 2004 or 2005. In another, he said it was his first year of law school, around 2008, but he wasn’t sure. He said McDaniel [said] he would do it [commit murder] by sneaking up on [the victim] with chloroform. [McDaniel lawyer Floyd] Buford effectively counterpunched, getting Patterson to admit that there was no chloroform found anywhere.
The entire audience kept holding their breath waiting for Patterson to tell us what the felony part of the felony murder was, and as he was about to blurt it out, he was saved by [Bibb County District Attorney] Greg Winters.
Intriguing — one wonders what the prosecution has up its sleeve. Of course, there are constitutional requirements that govern what the prosecutors must disclose to the defense, at different stages in the criminal process. We will surely find out everything in the fullness of time.
Our tipster was impressed by Floyd Buford, counsel to McDaniel:
Floyd did an excellent job. He still threw maintenance man David Dorer’s name in there, but he basically made Patterson confess that MPD [Macon Police Department] zeroed in on McDaniel as their only person of interest.
The police cadaver dog only went into three apartments, not any of the ones behind the front of the building. The dog [alerted] in McD’s bedroom and bathroom (I don’t want to even think about that).
The roving reporter was not impressed by Detective Patterson:
The other big thing was the discovery of blue gloves with blood on them. Floyd Buford says his private investigator discovered blue gloves with blood on them in the laundry room just this past week; Detective Patterson [said he] was unaware of that.
Detective Patterson is definitely no Yuri Melich [a detective from the Casey Anthony case]. Patterson came off as very unsure of himself, and asked [District Attorney] Greg Winters one time if he could consult with him before he answered a question.
[Patterson] said he has only handled 20 murder cases. He said the GBI provided him with additional evidence to support the murder warrant that was gleaned off of computer data in McDaniel’s apartment.
And what about the man of the hour, Stephen M. McDaniel?
McDaniel himself is either so heavily medicated that he doesn’t know what is going on , or is still going by his playbook and putting on an act in an attempt to get away with murder. He just stared straight ahead the entire time, never making eye contact with anyone. Even when he left, he just stared straight ahead, didn’t look at his Mom and Dad [who were present in the courtroom; here is video of their arrival at court this morning].
Floyd said McDaniel was aware of the charges against him. Just bizarre.
There’s more about the hearing over at the Macon Telegraph. This part of the Telegraph article jumped out at me (emphases added):
Although McDaniel had granted permission for [cadaver] dogs to enter his apartment, he expressed concern, [Detective David] Patterson testified.
“He was concerned he might have picked up something on his clothing or shoes and might have brought it into his apartment,” Patterson said, explaining that McDaniel had participated in a search for Giddings — then just a missing person — with several of Giddings’ friends in the early hours of June 30.
Patterson noted that McDaniel had not been told that police had found Giddings’ torso and five black trash bags inside one of two flip-top trash cans utilized by residents of four of the apartment units, including Giddings and McDaniel.
The Telegraph also has a more comprehensive analysis of McDaniel’s message board postings (a story that supersedes the one we previously discussed). The amount of disturbing detail is staggering; if you have any interest in this case, you ought to read the full article. Here is an excerpt:
“SoL” described his numbness to violence in a 2010 post as part of a chatroom discussion about a movie released in 2007 called The Girl Next Door.
Recall that Lauren Giddings lived next door to Stephen McDaniel.
The Web site imdb.com bills the film as one that “follows the unspeakable torture and abuses committed on a teenage girl.”
“Girl Next Door,” “SoL” wrote, “is one of the few films I’ve seen in the last decade that” he could appreciate.
He goes on to write that a movie titled Grotesque didn’t make him cringe:
“It was just … ‘eh.’ Driving nails through a man’s testicles, cutting off a woman’s nipples with a pair of scissors, severing fingers and making a necklace out of them. … None of that does anything for me. It was fairly good imagery, but it failed to resonate with me.”
The post continues, “Yes, I can watch a man disemboweling himself by crawling across a room while his intestines are clamped to a hook and not feel even the slightest disgust. I am that desensitized to gore and torture.”
The average law student would not be able to kill and dismember a classmate; I know that I would faint or puke if I tried to do this. But a law student who had been “desensitized to gore and torture” might be more capable of such deeds.
In another discussion thread, “SoL” posts a link to a YouTube musical parody of the 1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger film “Conan the Barbarian” with lyrics that include “chopping up bodies, hacking and slicing,” and the refrain “hear the lamentation of the women.”
If you object to the nickname Hacksaw McDaniel, your objection is hereby overruled.
How did the Telegraph verify that “SoL” was Stephen McDaniel? It’s a fairly convincing explanation, involving a photograph with Justice Clarence Thomas, a mock trial (for a murder case actually), and a trip to an Outback Steakhouse (gotta love the Bloomin’ Onion, even if it will kill you more quickly than any hacksaw). Check out the complete article.
The Telegraph piece closes as follows:
In a February 2010 post, “SoL” turned his attention to romance.
“The problem with being a social recluse with a fundamental disability to connect on a romantic level,” he wrote, “is that we want so much to find that one, special person with whom we want to grow old with, raise children with, spend the rest of our lives with … and yet we’re incapable of going out and finding her.”
With his comments, he posted a link to the song “Broken” by the alternative band Seether from “The Punisher” movie soundtrack.
Wrote “SoL”: “Makes me think of a person who has found that special person and wants to protect her against any pain she could ever feel, who is willing to endure any hardship to keep it from (her), willing to fight against anything that would hurt her, but who can’t because he’s so mentally broken that he can’t tell her how he feels and can only watch from a distance.”
If the allegations are true, Stephen McDaniel should have kept his distance from Lauren Giddings.
P.S. As we have repeatedly stressed throughout our coverage of this matter, please keep in mind that the allegations against McDaniel are just that — allegations. McDaniel remains innocent until proven guilty — and in our reader poll earlier this month, about two-thirds of you said you’d vote to acquit if you were on the McDaniel jury.
UPDATE: More details revealed in Giddings murder case [Macon Telegraph]
McDaniel’s online posts describe torture, violence [Macon Telegraph]
Video: McDaniel’s parents arrive [Macon Telegraph]