McDaniel seeking bond reconsideration at Tuesday hearing

Telegraph staffJune 17, 2012 

Attorneys for accused killer Stephen McDaniel are expected to ask a judge Tuesday to reconsider McDaniel’s $850,000 bond and the conditions of his release.

McDaniel, 26, is charged with murder in the June 2011 slaying of 27-year-old Lauren Giddings, a fellow 2011 Mercer University law graduate who lived next door to him.

Her dismembered torso was found in a trash bin outside her Georgia Avenue apartment June 30.

McDaniel’s lawyers contend that the bond amount, set in April, is higher than his family can afford and is akin to denying bond.

Bibb County Superior Court Chief Judge Phil Brown also ordered that McDaniel can’t have unsupervised access to his young siblings if he is released.

A “Mickey Finn” Internet message-board post, read aloud by District Attorney Greg Winters at the April 3 bond proceeding, also will be discussed at the hearing, said Franklin J. Hogue, one of McDaniel’s lawyers.

“It’s coming up, that’s for sure. ... I’m gonna make a deal out of it,” Hogue said.

Prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty, allege that McDaniel authored the graphic, sexually suggestive post using the screen name, “SoL,” short for “Son of Liberty.”

Experts have been examining the authorship of the post. The post speaks of a “sexy neighbor” returning home, “wasted from a graduation party” and the author of the post inviting her in for a nightcap called a “Mickey Finn.”

During the April 3 hearing, Winters explained that a Mickey Finn is a drink “laced with drugs” to knock someone out.

The post Winters read went on to say that the poster has sex with the “sexy neighbor” and she suffered a fatal drug overdose. ... he discards the torso and then “lose(s) it on TV while the cops are discovering her remains.”

Hogue said he first learned of the post at the April hearing.

“The content of it made me suspect it wasn’t authentic,” he said.

Hogue contends that McDaniel didn’t have time to write the post after being interviewed by reporters on the sidewalk outside the Georgia Avenue apartment building where he and Giddings had lived since 2008.

During the interview, McDaniel became emotional and sat down. He went into the AT&T building beside the apartments and later continued talking with reporters.

After the interview, McDaniel was close to police at all times. He became a person of interest in the investigation soon after the interview, Hogue said.

In the days after the April hearing, administrators for the Operator Chan website, which McDaniel is believed to have frequented, got in touch with Hogue.

They said they’d been in touch with someone who claimed to have authored the “Mickey Finn” post, Hogue said.

He said he hasn’t heard from the person claiming to have written the post.

Brown has ordered that McDaniel, if released, must be confined to his parents’ house in Lilburn and that he must wear an ankle monitor. He also can’t have access to electronic communication devices or weapons.

A plan for how McDaniel would abide by the judge’s conditions would have to be submitted to the court before he’s released.

Hogue said McDaniel’s defense team plans to present a plan to the judge at the hearing Tuesday.

In addition to the murder charge, McDaniel faces 30 counts of sexual exploitation of children stemming from police finding a flash drive containing child pornography in his apartment.

No bond has been set on the sex charges or two counts of burglary for which McDaniel also is accused.

He must post bond for all charges against him before he can be released from the Bibb County jail.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398; to contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

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