Murder

Stephen McDaniel

I just realized that I share several things in common with Stephen Mark McDaniel, the recent Mercer Law School graduate who has been charged with the grisly murder of his former classmate, Lauren Giddings.

During law school, I served as vice-president of my law school’s Federalist Society chapter. So did Stephen McDaniel (under Lauren Giddings, who served as president).

Through the Federalist Society, I got to meet one of my heroes, Justice Clarence Thomas. So did Stephen McDaniel, who expressed his admiration for Justice Thomas’s integrity.

I once aspired to be a prosecutor and a federal judge. So did Stephen McDaniel, who hoped to serve as a prosecutor on his way to realizing his dream of serving on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stephen McDaniel’s mother, Glenda McDaniel, once asked her son whether romance was possible between him and any woman. My mother has posed similar questions of me.

Lauren Giddings

And this, thankfully, is where the similarities end. My hair, while sometimes problematic, doesn’t look like the result of “a grizzly bear banging Bob Marley’s mom” (as one ATL tipster described McDaniel’s mane). In law school, I wore khakis and button-down shirts to class, not chain mail (which doesn’t sound very comfortable). I have never been accused of burglarizing apartments (to steal condoms). And I’ve certainly never been accused of murder.

As we reported last night, Stephen M. McDaniel, 25, has been charged with the horrific murder of Lauren Giddings, 27, a bright and beautiful recent graduate of Mercer Law. Giddings’s decapitated torso was found on June 30. The search for the rest of her remains continues.

Let’s take a closer look at this deeply disturbing case….

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Stephen McDaniel

A recent graduate of Mercer Law School in Macon, Georgia, Stephen Mark McDaniel, has been charged with murder, according to inmate information posted tonight on the website of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office. As you may recall, Stephen McDaniel was a neighbor and classmate of Lauren Giddings, the slain Mercer Law graduate whose torso was found on June 30, inside a trash bin just outside her apartment building.

McDaniel, 25, was previously identified as a person of interest in the killing of Lauren Giddings, 27. He is currently being held in Bibb County jail, having been charged with two counts of burglary in an unrelated case.

Bibb County jail records are how the murder charge against McDaniel came to light. Let’s take a look at Stephen McDaniel’s inmate information sheet….

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* This whole debt crisis has been a little like Deal or No Deal, except that show had a much better host. Howie Mandel can get people to make a deal with the banker in under 60 minutes. Obama? Not so much. [POLITICO]

* Real life intellectual property matters be damned, because even virtual horses need to eat. If a PETA group doesn’t exist yet in Second Life, I have a feeling that one soon will. [Wall Street Journal]

* Reality shows rule, but I’m not sure if an execution can compete with Jersey Shore. The only thing I want to see die on TV is dignity, but our own David Lat has some other interesting ideas. [New York Times]

* New Mercer Law students are moving into the apartment complex where pieces of Lauren Giddings were found. Why would you sign a lease with a place that’s so stabby? [Macon Telegraph]

* B*tch has balls if she’s willing to go to war with Oprah over an acronym. Before you can OYP (Own Your Power), you might want to OYT (Own Your Trademark). [Daily Intel / New York Magazine]

A week and a half ago, we told you about the death of a Mercer Law student. The student has now been officially identified as Lauren Giddings, a recent Mercer Law graduate who was back in Macon studying for the bar.

The body was found dismembered. Our sources say that the body was decapitated. Police still haven’t found all of the body parts.

We have an update from Macon. Our sources are telling us that the police have two persons of interest, but law students are still being questioned….

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As many of you already know, if you don’t want to use email, you can send tips to Above the Law by text message. The number to use is 646-820-TIPS (or 646-820-8477).

That number, which is hooked up to our Google Voice account, also accepts voice mails. We strongly prefer text-based tips, via email or text message, over voicemail tips (which require us to listen and transcribe). But you can leave us voicemails if you like.

In the wake of the Casey Anthony verdict, one reader left us a, um, very interesting voice-mail. Check it out — it’s under 10 seconds….

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The verdict in the Casey Anthony case reflected the lack of forensic evidence and heavy reliance on circumstantial inferences. There was no evidence of a cause of death, the time of death, or the circumstances surrounding the actual death of this young girl. There was sufficient circumstantial evidence from which the jury could have inferred homicide. But a reasonable jury could also have rejected that conclusion, as this jury apparently did.

Alan Dershowitz, in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece about the Casey Anthony verdict. (For thoughts along similar lines in defense of fair Casey, see Elie’s recent post.)

First, I just want you all to know that I hate you guys for making me follow this story. Seriously, I even wrote wrote a song about it.

Anyway, Casey Anthony has been sentenced for lying to the cops. She’s getting four years. BUT, she’s getting credit for her time already served. That means she could be out by late July or August.

I’ll now pause for you to express your collective outrage….

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Paul Bergrin

I’ll always be grateful to Paul Bergrin, the New Jersey federal prosecutor turned notorious criminal defense attorney. Thanks to him, I’ll never have to worry about being the most scandalous alumnus of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.

While working as an assistant U.S. attorney, I wrote a mildly snarky blog about federal judges, pretending to be a woman, until I outed myself in the pages of the New Yorker. That pales in comparison to what Bergrin stands accused of doing, including (but not limited to) the following: operating a real-estate scam, which defrauded lenders of over $1 million; running a high-volume drug dealership, which was apparently big enough to move 120 pounds of uncut cocaine; running an illegal escort service; and, most seriously of all, having witnesses murdered to keep them from testifying against his clients.

It’s hard to believe that Paul Bergrin was once a federal prosecutor. It’s not hard to believe that he is, in the words of New York magazine, “The Baddest Lawyer in the History of Jersey.”

But let’s recall that the charges against Bergrin are just that — charges, which Bergrin disputes. Last week, represented by prominent defense lawyer Lawrence Lustberg, Bergrin appeared in federal court in Newark and pleaded not guilty to all 33 counts in the 139-page indictment. Bergrin’s trial is currently set for October 11 before Judge William J. Martini.

In light of the astounding charges leveled against him, Paul Bergrin has taken on a larger-than-life aura — the man, the myth, the legend. What is he really like?

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Got this email in the ol’ inbox this morning — a missive from Jose Baez, the successful defense lawyer of Casey Anthony, who was just acquitted of charges that she killed her daughter (murder and manslaughter).

Thought I’d forward it on to you good folks. Read it if you want. Don’t cost nothing.

From: JoseBaez@——.com
To: JuggaloLaw@gmail.com
Subject: Hey A-hole!
Date: Wed, 06 Jul 2011 05:29:00 -0600

Dear Juggs,

I’m sorry that it’s taken me this long to respond to the thoughtful criticisms levied against me in your post written almost a month ago, when you named me Above the Law’s Lawyer of the Day and suggested I was in over my head on the Casey Anthony case.

In the whirlwind that is my life, I occasionally misplace things, and your post was just one of those things. It’s probably better this way, as I’ve had the opportunity to collect my thoughts and give you the reasoned response your thoughtfulness begs for. Almost a month on, I think it’s fair to say….

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Television news sources are reporting that Casey Anthony has been found not guilty of first degree murder, aggravated child abuse, or aggravated manslaughter of a child.

Casey Anthony was found guilty of four counts of providing false information to law enforcement officers.

HLN, the news channel that has been covering this trial since it started, all day, every day, is having a freakin’ field day. Mothers all over the country are ripping their hair out of their heads. Nancy Grace didn’t just have a cow — she gave birth to an entire herd.

Is Jose Baez, Casey Anthony’s lawyer, the Latino Johnnie Cochran? Either way, he’s looking forward to many, many incoming client calls.

As I noted in today’s Morning Docket, Casey would’ve gotten some first degree murder for breakfast from me. Instead, all she got was a few slaps on the wrist.

Will we ever find out what really happened to Caylee Anthony? Sadly, I don’t think the answer to that question is yes.

We will continue to provide relevant updates to this post throughout the day as they arise. Refresh this post for the latest.

UPDATE (2:55 PM): Do you think Casey Anthony was guilty? Take our poll, and see how your fellow ATL readers voted, after the jump….

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