Lawyers want McDaniel’s ‘perfect murder’ discussions kept out of court

Telegraph staffDecember 14, 2012 

If Stephen McDaniel’s lawyers have their way, the murder case against him will not include testimony from his former college roommate and friend about how McDaniel used to claim he could pull off “the perfect murder” and get away with it.

McDaniel’s defense team, in a Friday court filing, dismisses such “college ramblings” between McDaniel and his friend as “casual conversations of young college students based on curious musings, not deep criminal confessions.”

Still, McDaniel’s lawyers don’t think the recollections of that roommate, Thad Money, should ever reach jurors’ ears. They want Money’s descriptions of McDaniel’s supposed perfect-murder plot deemed inadmissible because many of the details do not match McDaniel’s alleged crime.

Money was McDaniel’s roommate at Mercer University for a semester in 2007 when both were undergraduates. Money got in touch with authorities in 2011 in the days after McDaniel’s law school classmate and neighbor, Lauren Giddings, turned up dead and dismembered.

Money, who in past interviews with The Telegraph has spoken of McDaniel’s fascination with zombies and murder scenarios as well as McDaniel’s intelligence, told police detectives about McDaniel’s hypothetical scheme for killing someone and disposing of the body without being caught.

“Stephen said he would wear shoes that were too small, that he would make himself appear to be bald, that he would cut up the body, put the parts in bags, use chemicals to mask the odor, and spread the body parts in the woods,” a defense motion’s account of Money’s statement to police says.

Money, who’d attended The Citadel and the U.S. Air Force Academy before transferring to Mercer, said he told McDaniel that McDaniel would never be able to overpower him because of Money’s military training.

“Stephen retorted that he would ‘bum rush’ him with chloroform,” the defense motion says, apparently quoting from a police transcript of Money’s statement, which he made by phone. “Money concluded his description of these college ramblings by saying: ‘Yeah, I mean nobody believes you know everybody in college is full of it, uh it’s always 100 percent hypothetical.”

Money mentioned the exchange he had with McDaniel about chloroform in an interview published in The Telegraph after the August 2011 court hearing in which Money’s name first surfaced publicly.

In his remarks to police, which appear in an affidavit filed Friday, Money said McDaniel was “a self-proclaimed psychopath” who “proclaimed often that he has no conscience and was incapable of feeling emotion.”

Money said McDaniel’s “perfect murder” talk came up “almost nightly,” and that the frizzy-haired McDaniel’s reasoning for trying to look bald in pulling off such a crime would be so people wouldn’t “point him out because of his big hair.”

“What Stephen relishes is power,” Money told police. “He’ll tell you ... You don’t have to ask him. ... Everything he does is the result of a power play. He is an odd duckling who looks weak, but has one of the sharpest minds I have ever seen. Stephen said if he killed someone, he’d do it in a way to establish dominance over them. He always said he wanted to feel the power of someone’s life in his hands. He said he wanted them to beg, and then to take it.”

McDaniel’s lawyers write that the “only similarity” in the murder scheme Money attributed to McDaniel and the Giddings slaying is that “the victim was dismembered.”

“No evidence exists that chloroform was ever used since none was found in or near the victim’s or Mr. McDaniel’s apartments and no evidence exists to show that the victim was dismembered in a bathroom,” the attorneys write.

“Furthermore, all other facts ... differ from Mr. McDaniel’s alleged ‘perfect murder.’ For example, the body was not found in the woods, nor did chemicals conceal the smell of decomposition and the murder does not have the appearance of a lover’s feud.”

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