Crime, Death Penalty, Deaths, King & Spalding, Law Schools, Murder, Violence

King & Spalding Lawyer Received Key Email As Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty Against Stephen McDaniel

As we mentioned in Morning Docket on Friday, prosecutors will be seeking the death penalty against Stephen McDaniel if he is convicted of the murder of Lauren Giddings, his former neighbor and classmate at Mercer Law School.

The Bibb County District Attorney calls the crime “outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman in that it involved depravity of mind,” which is one standard the prosecution has to meet to seek the death penalty in Georgia.

The Macon Telegraph conducted a long interview with Lauren Giddings’s boyfriend, David Vandiver. The King & Spalding lawyer wonders if Giddings’s final email to him was entirely hers….

McDaniel, who still proclaims his innocence, claims that Giddings told him she was worried about people breaking into her house. These concerns were apparently also communicated in an email to Giddings’s boyfriend, but Vandiver is not sure if Giddings was the author. From the Telegraph:

Vandiver says that final e-mail from Giddings covered a range of topics. Their relationship. Her pending moving plans. She also mentioned an apparent break-in try at her apartment by local “hoodlums” a couple of nights earlier.

Giddings also noted that she’d hoped the next tenant moving into her apartment would buy some of her furniture. But it turned out the tenant was allergic to dogs. Giddings’ sidekick Butterbean, a Pekingese-poodle mix, had lived with her during most of her time in Macon.

Though there may be no way to know for sure, Vandiver thinks Giddings at least started writing the e-mail he received. The writing matched her style. Details in it were things only she could know.

But one curious aspect of the case has been the message’s use of the word “hoodlums.”

McDaniel, when interviewed by reporters the day Giddings’ torso was found, mentioned the e-mail and some of what was in it — the line that included “hoodlums.”

Late the previous night, he and Giddings’ friends apparently read the message on her computer when her friends, concerned because they hadn’t seen or heard from Giddings in a few days, went to her apartment to look for her.

“That’s what she said in the e-mail,” McDaniel told reporters. “She thought that someone had tried to break into her apartment. She said it, like, ‘Macon hoodlums tried to break into my apartment on Thursday night.’ ”

Might the line have been typed by a killer trying to throw off the cops? Or was Giddings the author, merely mentioning it in passing in her e-mail?

Answers might never emerge.

Vandiver, now 48, met Giddings when she was an intern at King & Spalding, four years ago. The ABA Journal says Vandiver has been cleared of any suspicion regarding Giddings’s death:

Vandiver, who is in Atlanta, says he had to persuade police he wasn’t involved in Giddings’ death. He provided police with records of his California trip and told them how they could access time-stamped videos from a golf school he had attended there.

Vandiver believes that McDaniel is guilty.

DA Seeks Death Penalty for Stephen McDaniel [WMAZ]
Lauren Giddings and the man whose heart she won [Macon Telegraph]
Slain Law Grad’s Final Email Told of ‘Awkward Conversation’ with Friend Wanting Romance Details [ABA Journal]

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