Prosecutors don’t oppose moving McDaniel trial

Telegraph staffJanuary 15, 2014 

Prosecutors in the murder case against Stephen McDaniel won’t oppose a venue change for his trial.

On Wednesday, a day after a motion from McDaniel’s lawyers asking that his trial be moved out of town, prosecutors filed their response, saying they would not object to a move.

In their Tuesday motion filed in Bibb County Superior Court, defense attorneys argued that extensive news coverage of the Lauren Giddings slaying had made it impossible for McDaniel to get a fair trial in Macon.

The defense motion came on the heels of recent revelations regarding McDaniel’s alleged Internet activity.

Judge Howard Simms hasn’t ruled on the issue, and no trial date has been set.

If a change of venue is granted, it is still possible that McDaniel’s actual trial could be held in Macon -- but with a panel of jurors brought in from another Georgia city.

The last time a venue change was approved in a high-profile Bibb murder case was the trial for Damon Jolly, one of the men who fatally shot a deputy in 2006.

Jolly’s trial was to be held in Savannah in 2012, but that move was canceled when he pleaded guilty to murder and received a life sentence.

Floyd Buford, one of McDaniel’s lawyers, declined to comment Wednesday, saying he hadn’t seen prosecutors’ response.

District Attorney David Cooke said, “This is a no-brainer way to avoid an obvious issue on appeal.”

McDaniel, 28, stands accused of killing and dismembering Lauren Giddings in June 2011. He was scheduled to go to trial in February, but recent developments prompted Simms to say he would postpone the trial.

Giddings, who was 27, had lived next door to McDaniel at the Barristers Hall apartments on Georgia Avenue across from the Mercer University law school where they graduated in May 2011.

In court last week, prosecutors told of information that investigators have allegedly found on McDaniel’s laptop computer, including claims that McDaniel viewed sites related to cannibalism and dismemberment.

The Telegraph has also reported, citing a source, that McDaniel viewed Giddings’ Facebook page, visited websites about violent sex and necrophilia, and appeared to research a device similar to the burglar bar that Giddings used to secure her apartment door.

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

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