Child porn charges for McDaniel

Images include boys and girls having sex with adults, each other, warrants say

Telegraph staffAugust 24, 2011 

Photographs of boys and girls in sex acts with adults and each other were found on a flash drive that belongs to Stephen McDaniel, the man accused in the late-June killing of his Mercer University law school classmate Lauren Giddings, according to arrest warrants signed Tuesday.

McDaniel was charged with seven counts of sexual exploitation of children, Macon police said.

“This is disturbing,” Giddings’ sister, Kaitlyn Wheeler, said when reached by phone Tuesday.

Giddings’ father, Bill, called the development “another bizarre twist” in the case against McDaniel, who lived next door to Lauren Giddings.

“I’m wondering what his parents are thinking,” Bill Giddings said in a telephone interview.

McDaniel’s mother, Glenda, who has in recent weeks repeatedly proclaimed her 25-year-old son’s innocence to The Telegraph, did not return numerous messages asking for comment.

The flash drive -- a compact, file-storage device -- was attached to a black-and-orange Mercer University lanyard found in McDaniel’s apartment when authorities searched it after the killing, the warrants note.

Floyd Buford, McDaniel’s attorney, said he learned of the new charges about an hour before the warrants were served Tuesday afternoon, but he has not had an opportunity to discuss the charges with McDaniel.

The child pornography charges have “no relation whatsoever to the Giddings murder case,” Buford said.

He said he’s continuing to prepare for his client’s commitment hearing scheduled for Friday in Bibb County Magistrate Court pertaining to the murder charge. Buford said a private investigator has been hired and has begun work on behalf of McDaniel’s defense.

If convicted on the sexual exploitation of children charges, McDaniel could face between five and 20 years in prison for each charge, said District Attorney Greg Winters.

A fine of up to $100,000 also could be imposed for each count, if McDaniel is convicted.

The arrest warrants provide details about the images. The photos show various sex acts involving adults and prepubescent boys and girls, and some involve intercourse, according to the warrants.

Winters said the images were discovered during the GBI’s analysis of computer items seized from McDaniel’s apartment as part of the Giddings murder investigation.

Giddings’ torso, wrapped in plastic, was discovered in a roll-away trash bin beside her apartment building at 1058 Georgia Ave. on the morning of June 30, hours after friends reported her missing. Giddings, 27, was last heard from June 25.

McDaniel, from Lilburn, who was Giddings’ neighbor in Macon for about three years, was jailed July 1 on burglary charges unrelated to Giddings’ death and dismemberment. In the alleged burglary cases, authorities have said McDaniel, in the winter of 2008-2009, entered two apartments in the Barristers Hall complex and stole condoms.

McDaniel and Giddings, a Maryland native who had plans to start her law career in metro Atlanta, were members of the 2011 graduating class at Mercer’s Walter F. George School of Law, just across the street from their apartments. They and some members of their class had stayed in town after graduation to study for the Georgia bar exam.

McDaniel’s Aug. 2 murder warrant alleges that authorities found a hacksaw with Giddings’ DNA on it in a locked room at the apartment complex. Packaging for the saw was recovered from McDaniel’s apartment, the warrant states, as were a master key to the complex and a key to Giddings’ residence.

Besides her torso, none of Giddings’ remains have turned up.

Bill Giddings said that he and his family continue to be frustrated by not being able to locate those remains. Speaking of that frustration and of Tuesday’s news of the mounting charges against McDaniel, Bill Giddings said, “It makes me wonder where this is heading, and how far it is we’ve got to go until (McDaniel) comes clean.”

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398. To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

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