Slaying suspect McDaniel told cops repeatedly, ‘I didn’t do anything’

jkovac@macon.comDecember 14, 2013 

mcdaniel_bond

Stephen McDaniel talks with his attorneys Floyd Buford and Frank Hogue right during a break in which Judge Phillip Brown took a close look at the murder defendant's bond motion.

BEAU CABELL — bcabell@macon.com Buy Photo

The denials come calm and meek, most of them uttered in soft, measured monotone.

Thursday, for the first time since Stephen McDaniel became a suspect in the June 2011 slaying and dismemberment of Lauren Giddings, his voice was heard in public from the night that detectives accused him of killing her.

In a 10-minute video clip, part of an hourslong recording, played in Bibb County Superior Court, McDaniel spoke all of 66 words.

His interrogator in the tape, a Macon police detective, did most of the talking. The detective used nearly 900 words to try and elicit all the information he could from the then-25-year-old McDaniel.

But the cop didn’t get much.

McDaniel, like the 27-year-old Giddings, was fresh out of Mercer University law school. The two had graduated that May and, like some of their classmates, were still in town studying for the bar exam.

But for a few days late that June, no one heard from Giddings. Then on the morning of June 30, after her friends had launched a frantic search, her torso turned up in a garbage can at the downtown Macon apartments where Giddings and McDaniel were next-door neighbors. Her other remains have never been found.

McDaniel is set to stand trial in her slaying in February.

The video shown in court last week was from the night of June 30, 2011, and the early hours of July 1, when McDaniel withstood round after round of police questioning.

His lawyers played a recording from a portion of that grilling to show that McDaniel was in police custody long before he was read his rights.

And also before police say he confessed to going into some other neighbors’ apartments months earlier to steal, odd as it may be, condoms.

McDaniel was charged with two counts of burglary and jailed. The murder charge didn’t come for another month. But Thursday, thanks in part to the interrogation video, a judge ruled that testimony about the burglary charges won’t be allowed at McDaniel’s murder trial.

Six times in McDaniel’s taped conversation with Macon police Detective David Patterson, McDaniel answered questions with the same four words: “I didn’t do anything.”

He almost whispered them.

Only once in the exchange did McDaniel’s voice take on anything approaching inflection.

That came after Patterson belittled and ridiculed McDaniel, saying McDaniel thought himself “smarter than everybody else.” And that McDaniel didn’t have a girlfriend and would never get one.

“I’m listening,” Patterson said, hoping to prompt his suspect. “I’m all ears.”

McDaniel, as if on the verge of frustration but not quite there, replied, “I don’t know what you want me to say.”

The dialogue, one-sided as it was, took place in a so-called interview room at the Macon Police Department’s detective bureau.

It began with Patterson prodding McDaniel to tell of his whereabouts around the time Giddings was killed.

It played out like this:

Patterson: “Please tell me ... I know earlier in the day you told me you stayed home all weekend, right, in your apartment?”

McDaniel: “Yes.”

Patterson: “And, uh, did anybody see you? Did you talk to anybody over the weekend? Were you on your computer all weekend? Is there anything I can look at that I can say, ‘He couldn’t be involved because he was on the computer, or he was online on a porn site, or he was online doing college work,’ or anything that would exclude you as being involved altogether? I mean, did anybody see you this weekend at the house? Did you go out to get a newspaper? Did you wave to a neighbor? ... You just locked yourself in all week?”

McDaniel: “Yes.”

Patterson: “Nobody saw you?”

McDaniel: “No.”

Patterson: “I mean, what do you ... just stay in the house all day?”

McDaniel: “Yes.”

Patterson: “I mean, what do you do all day in the house?”

McDaniel: “Play video games.”

Patterson: “By yourself?”

McDaniel: “Yes.”

Patterson: “You never talk to anybody on the phone or anything?”

McDaniel: “If they call me.”

Patterson: “Well, who calls you?”

McDaniel: “Parents.”

Patterson: “I mean, you’ve always done that your whole life? You don’t have no friends?”

McDaniel: “I have friends.”

Patterson: “How do you go your whole life without a friend?”

McDaniel: “I have friends.”

Patterson: “Where they at? Hmm? Where they at? Have any friends here in Macon?”

McDaniel: “Yes.”

Patterson: “Name one, because everybody I talked to said they ain’t your friend.”

McDaniel: (Names four people, some of them law school classmates.)

Patterson: “That’s the same people I talked to today, and they’re not your friend. OK? They’re not your friend. I mean, it’s all over anyways. I just wanted to know what was going on tonight. The game’s over, I mean, we know what you did to her. So we just wanna know ... if you were gonna tell us or not.”

McDaniel: “I didn’t do anything.”

Patterson: “That’s what you say. ... We know different. So, you’re f----- either way. ... We already know. And everybody out there, all your friends, know that you’re down here. ... So all those friends that you thought you had are not your friends anymore. OK? There’ll be no more video games, all right? ... This is the end. Is there anything you wanna say?”

McDaniel: “I didn’t do anything.”

Patterson: “That’s what you say. That’s what you say. Stick to your story, because it’s over. We’re tired of talking to you. ... We know you killed her. We know you put her body in the trash can. It’s simple as that. The news media knows it. Glenda knows it, your mother. Your sister knows it. Your sister’s husband knows it, the one that used to beat your sister. He knows it. You know what he said? He said, ‘He’s a crazy m-----------’ is what he said when I called him. That’s your own family calling you crazy. Your whole family said you crazy. Nobody wants to see you, nobody’s coming to visit you. So you can sit there with that dumb look on your face, it’s over. You’ve enjoyed yourself, and it’s all over now. OK? Anything you want to say? ...”

McDaniel: “I didn’t do anything.”

Patterson: “That’s what you say. But I’m telling you, you did. OK? It’s simple as that. You’re not in charge, I am. I just took it away from you. That’s one thing you can’t change, brother. You can’t change that. You are no longer in charge of anything. OK? You understand? ... Talk to Glenda, she’s crying. She’s supposed to be coming down here. I told ’em the whole story. And they told me what you used to tell them about your next-door neighbor (Giddings presumably), too. ... What, you can’t say nothing now? You’re speechless? Hmm? Yeah, she should be here in a little bit. I promised her I’d let her see you ... before you go on down (to jail). All right? OK?”

McDaniel: “I didn’t do anything.”

Patterson: “It doesn’t matter what you think you did. It doesn’t matter. It’s what I can prove. OK? OK, Mr. Smarty-pants? Hmm? ... OK? I’m taking Glenda’s statement about what you used to tell her about your neighbor. About what you used to tell her about your guns and your knives. And your sister’s husband’s coming, because he said you crazy. Your sister is married still, right?”

McDaniel: “Yes.”

Patterson: “He used to beat her, back in the day?”

McDaniel: “I don’t know.”

Patterson: “Huh? Well you sit here and think about it for a little bit, OK?”

McDaniel: “OK.”

Patterson: “You got plenty of time to think now, don’t you? Hmm? Yep. You got plenty of time to think. You thought you were smarter than everybody else, but you’re not. You’re not. The sad thing about it is you probably could’ve made something with your life. But you chose a different route. Because, one, you don’t have a girlfriend, and, two, you’re never gonna get a girlfriend. ... I’m listening. I’m all ears.”

McDaniel: “I don’t know what you want me to say.”

Patterson: “I don’t want you to say nothing. You’re f----- either way. You understand that?”

McDaniel: “I didn’t do anything.”

Patterson: “That’s what you, that’s your side of the story. That’s your side of the story. Works both ways, brother. Works both ways. There ain’t gonna be no more yelling, ain’t nobody gonna yell at you. ... (Your family is coming to) kiss you goodbye. I’m gonna take their statement, and it’s all over. You do understand that, right?”

McDaniel: “I didn’t do anything.”

Patterson: “That’s what you say. That’s what you say. But you haven’t told us anything. Do you realize what I’m telling you? Hmm?”

Contact writer Joe Kovac Jr. at 744-4397.

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