McDaniel lawyer doesn’t object to search of grandfather’s farm

Telegraph staffSeptember 12, 2013 

The Pike County farm of Stephen Mark McDaniel’s maternal grandfather, Hollis Browning Jr., is seen in this 2011 photo.

JOE KOVAC JR. — jkovac@macon.com

The lawyer representing Stephen McDaniel in a $5 million-plus wrongful death suit doesn’t object to a search of McDaniel’s grandfather’s Pike County farm.

McDaniel, 27, faces criminal charges in the 2011 murder of Lauren Giddings, his Mercer law school classmate and neighbor.

Giddings’ torso was found June 30, 2011, in a trash can outside the Georgia Avenue apartment complex where she and McDaniel lived next door to one another. The rest of her remains have not been found.

Her parents filed the federal lawsuit in June in hopes of searching the grandfather’s farm for Giddings’ remains. Before his 2012 death, the grandfather said McDaniel had visited and toured his Flint River-area property the weekend before Giddings was killed.

Authorities have never searched the property, which now belongs to McDaniel’s uncle, Paul Browning.

In an order signed Thursday by U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal, attorney Floyd Buford said McDaniel has “no general objection to the plaintiffs’ request to inspect the property ... provided the search is done by privately retained experts who have no affiliation with the defendant’s current criminal case.”

McDaniel reserved the right to object to the search if it’s not “reasonable as to the time, duration and scope,” according to the court filing.

A phone message left for Buford was not immediately returned Thursday.

McDaniel, who turns 28 next Friday -- his third straight birthday behind bars -- is set to stand trial in the murder case in January.

Pretrial hearings in the criminal case are scheduled to begin Monday.

Discovery in the civil case is set to last until next June.

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