Bail, Crime, Death Penalty, Deaths, Law Schools, Murder, Violence

Arraignment Date Set for Stephen McDaniel in Lauren Giddings Murder Case

Stephen McDaniel cleans up nicely for court.

Stephen M. McDaniel, the Mercer Law School graduate accused of killing classmate Lauren Giddings, made an appearance in court this morning. As you may recall, Giddings’s decapitated torso was found on June 30 in Macon, Georgia, and thus far, police have been unable to recover the rest of her body.

Last month, we mentioned that Bibb County prosecutors intended to seek the death penalty for McDaniel. Today, in court, the alleged murderer received formal notification of his fate if he is found guilty of the charges levied against him.

McDaniel’s arraignment hearing has been set for February 7, but his lawyers raised some interesting issues today. What sort of motions will they be filing on their client’s behalf?

13WMAZ has a video (of extremely poor quality) of the entirety of Stephen McDaniel’s hearing. If you’d like to watch it, we suggest that you turn the volume all the way up:

McDaniel’s lawyers, Floyd Buford and Franklin Hogue (whose ponytail is even longer than his client’s — we suppose that it’s a Southern lawyer thing), plan to launch a “vigorous pretrial defense,” according to the Macon Telegraph. They will be contesting several hot-button issues:

Hogue told Bibb Chief Superior Court Judge S. Phillip Brown that his client would, in a coming motion, be challenging the makeup of the grand jury that indicted McDaniel. The measure involves census figures not yet available.

Buford later said there “is also gonna be an issue about an arrest warrant that was issued in the case.” He also said search-and-seizure, consent search and arrest matters would draw defense scrutiny.

Buford said he would also be filing a conflict-of-interest motion on McDaniel’s behalf. McDaniel worked for a time at the Bibb County courthouse.

According to 13WMAZ, Buford has already unsuccessfully challenged the ability of the Bibb County District Attorney’s office to fairly prosecute McDaniel, because as luck would have it, McDaniel worked there as an intern. The rehashing of the apparent conflict reportedly caused District Attorney Greg Winters to roll his eyes, as it was previously established that no such conflict existed.

Buford also announced that he would be seeking bail for McDaniel, who has been incarcerated since July. Buford stumbled for a moment when the judge inquired as to whether there were “any issues” with regard to McDaniel’s competency to stand trial, and the judge quickly moved on. The question of McDaniel’s competency has not been raised since August.

Perhaps we will see this issue reemerge at a future court date, but as of yet, we cannot be sure. Until then, we will continue to provide information on McDaniel’s case as soon as we receive it.

McDaniel’s attorneys will contest grand jury makeup, searches in Giddings case [Macon Telegraph]
Stephen McDaniel’s Lawyer to Challenge Grand-Jury Makeup in Giddings Case [13WMAZ]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Stephen McDaniel

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