Police

Stephen McDaniel

In our coverage of Stephen Mark McDaniel, the 25-year-old Mercer Law School graduate who has been charged with the murder of Lauren Giddings, his former classmate and neighbor, we have repeatedly stressed that McDaniel remains innocent until proven guilty. We have pointed to past examples of individuals who were viewed by the public as almost certainly guilty of particular crimes, but who turned out to be innocent — such as Gary Condit and Richard Jewell, to say nothing of the numerous prisoners who have been freed thanks to DNA evidence.

It is therefore appropriate to ask at this time: Has Stephen McDaniel been framed for the murder of Lauren Giddings?

Let’s look at some of the theories — and the evidence — suggesting this might be the case….

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Stephen 'Hacksaw' McDaniel

In last night’s story about Stephen Mark McDaniel, the recent Mercer Law School graduate accused of murdering his former neighbor and classmate, Lauren Giddings, we tried to come up with a Nancy Grace-style nickname for the accused. Inspired by Tot Mom, Nancy Grace’s moniker for Casey Anthony, one reader suggested “Chain Mail Man” (based on McDaniel’s penchant for wearing chain mail to his law school classes).

In light of new evidence that has come to light, however, a better nickname has emerged for Stephen McDaniel. Until a superior option presents itself, the defendant may occasionally be referred to in these pages as “Hacksaw McDaniel.”

What is the basis for this new handle? Let’s take a look at the arrest warrant for Stephen M. McDaniel, which lays out the gruesome particulars….

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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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Trying to find a safe-for-work picture of pool sex is nearly impossible.

I know it’s hot. It’s ridiculously hot. All of my heat wave jokes have melted. The only thing I believe a creator intelligently designed was the air conditioner.

If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, there are many public places you can go to in order to cool off. You could take in a nice movie — I suggest Night At The Museum At A Zoo With A Fat Guy. Or you could go to a public pool.

You just can’t have sex in the public pool. I know that for most people that goes without saying, but apparently cops in Indiana need things spelled out for them….

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As Walter Sobchak might say: Lady, I’ve got buddies who died face down in the muck so that I could enjoy the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

Over Memorial Day Weekend, the police arrested people for dancing in the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Can you believe it? On the very weekend we are supposed to honor the sacrifices of our military, the police are going around and dishonoring the very ideals those men and women have fought and died for.

Unless you think we send our military all over the world so the nation’s capital can be a dance-free zone, like the town of Beaumont in freaking Footloose….

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Of course this happened. Of course Andrew Meyer, the University of Florida student who was famously tased during a John Kerry speech, ended up going to law school. Of course a law school looked at Meyer’s history of barely civil disobedience and resisting police and said, “Come on down.”

And really, Meyer’s story isn’t even the craziest law school matriculation story out there today. Not in a world where a 15-year-old kid is trying to figure out which law school he’s going to.

Which institutions of legal education are welcoming these students with non-traditional life stories?

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UVA looks tranquil -- but looks can be deceiving. (Yes, I know this is a picture of the Rotunda on Central Grounds, not the Law School. But I took it myself, when I spoke at UVA a few years ago, and wanted to use it.)

Just out of curiosity, I took a look at the academic calendar for UVA Law School. It turns out that they’re right in the middle of spring exams (which started on Monday, May 2, and finish on Friday, May 13). I can’t imagine trying to study for or take exams amidst this kind of upheaval.

And, as it turns out, the Johnathan Perkins controversy isn’t the only thing happening at the law school right now. On Friday, a 2L at UVA, Daniel Paul Watkins, was charged with stalking and assault by university police.

UPDATE (8/31/11): Daniel Watkins has been cleared of all charges.

This incident is separate from L’Affaire Perkins, but some suggest there’s a connection….

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I wonder what Sally Hemings would say to Johnathan Perkins.

UPDATE (4 PM): The dean of UVA Law School, Paul G. Mahoney, has issued a statement about the application of the University of Virginia’s Honor System to the Johnathan Perkins incident. We have reprinted it after the jump.

White law students lie all the time and nobody makes a big deal about it, but now there’s a black law student who lies about something, and people are throwing a fit? That hardly seems right.

Look, whether or not white people want to believe it, racism is an important issue. It’s an issue that they don’t think about nearly enough. While Johnathan Perkins might have fabricated some of the details of his late-night run-in with the law (or at least university police), his goal of bringing attention to on-campus racism was laudable — and should be advanced by any means necessary.

I’m just warming up. Let me tell you what I really think about the Johnathan Perkins controversy at UVA Law School….

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Johnathan Perkins

It’s time for more race-related drama from UVA Law School. Back in February, Elie wrote about a UVA Law party that featured Confederate flag decor. Now I will tell you about a 3L’s fabricated tale of racial harassment by university police.

(Yes, Lat’s writing this story. So you can relax, UVA folks — at least for now. Maybe Elie will take a crack at it on Monday.)

In late April, Johnathan Perkins, a third-year law student at UVA, wrote a letter to the editor that was published in Virginia Law Weekly, the law school’s student newspaper. In his letter, Perkins claimed that he was harassed by UVA university police while walking home from a party, purportedly on account of his race (he’s African-American). Perkins said he was moved to share the story “because it is important for my classmates to hear a real-life anecdote illustrating the myth of equal protection under the law.”

The trouble is, it was anything but a “real-life anecdote,” as Perkins himself recently confessed….

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