Search warrants give insight into Giddings murder case

Telegraph staffDecember 15, 2012 

Macon police obtained several warrants to search Stephen McDaniel’s apartment, car and body between June 30 and Aug. 11, 2011.

McDaniel’s lawyers filed motions Friday, asking a judge to throw out potential evidence seized during the searches. They argued the warrants were issued based on information gleaned through previous “illegal warrantless searches.”

In several of the searches, the lawyers allege police illegally seized items they were not authorized to take.

As part of their arguments, the lawyers attached copies of the warrants, affidavits detectives used to get the warrants and lists of what police seized.

Details of the searches include:

• Warrant 1, issued 8:42 p.m. June 30, 2011: Police searched McDaniel’s apartment and took six knives, including one that was a foot long. They also seized a sword, tennis shoes, T-shirts, underwear, a gray bath towel and what are described as 13 pieces of “cutting equipment.”

• Warrant 2, issued 1:55 a.m. July 1, 2011: Police searched McDaniel’s apartment and took two handguns, a rifle, rope, wooden sticks, four baseball bats and a bayonet. They also took a chain mail vest, “wad of hair,” laptop, camera, cell phone, external card drive and a memory card reader. A shoelace, receipts -- including one from Walmart dated June 23, 2011, a green scrub sponge, two keys, and a silver case with a journal and laptop also were seized, as was a foam cup with “Lauren” written on it.

McDaniel has a niece named Lauren.

• Warrant 3, issued 1:55 a.m. July 1, 2011: Police searched McDaniel’s black 1997 Geo Prizm and took fabric samples from the back seat, scrapings from the airbag area, an earring and two ponchos from the glove compartment, the headliner, floor mats, rearview mirror, front seat covers, trunk mat, and a black bag from the trunk that held two ponchos, a tire gauge and an air hose.

• Warrant 4, issued 1:55 a.m. July 1, 2011: Police searched McDaniel’s body and took hair samples, swabs from inside his cheeks, fingernail scrapings and photos of his body.

• Warrant 5, issued 7:40 p.m. July 12, 2011: Police searched McDaniel’s apartment for blue fibers. Police didn’t indicate what, if anything, they took.

• Warrant 6, issued 10:40 a.m. July 20, 2011: Police searched McDaniel’s apartment and took Sony Playstation 3 and PS2 and Microsoft Xbox gaming systems and accessories, compact discs, memory sticks and memory cards, a laptop, a camera and two adult magazines.

• Warrant 7, issued 4:22 p.m. July 21, 2011: A GBI forensic computer specialist searched computer equipment and storage devices belonging to McDaniel and Giddings. McDaniel’s PS3 also was searched, and the analyst noted that there weren’t any photos or videos, nor any Internet history, showing evidence related to Giddings’ slaying. A thumb drive belonging to McDaniel stored 52 images of child pornography.

McDaniel’s lawyers argue that some of the searches of the digital storage devices were conducted outside a 10-day limit imposed by state law, making any information gleaned from those searches inadmissable in court.

McDaniel is being held on a $850,000 bond on the murder charge but cannot be released from jail without a bond for the 30 counts of sexual exploitation of children charges levied against him. He is not eligible for a bond on those charges.

This summer, McDaniel’s lawyers argued that his bond was excessive, more than his family could afford. Both of McDaniel’s grandfathers have died since his arrest, one of whom owned the farm in Pike County where McDaniel visited the weekend before Giddings vanished.

• Warrant 8, issued 4:25 p.m. July 21, 2011: Police searched McDaniel’s apartment and took a pair of women’s panties, packaging for a Stanley hacksaw and fingernail clippings.

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

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