Prosecutors, defense want McDaniel jurors to visit scene

Telegraph staffFebruary 4, 2014 

A motion filed Tuesday by prosecutors in the Stephen McDaniel dismemberment murder case suggests that his upcoming trial may be held in Macon.

The motion asks the judge in the case to allow jurors to be taken to the Georgia Avenue apartments where McDaniel and his alleged victim, Lauren Giddings, lived. It’s also where her dismembered torso was found in a curbside trash bin in June 2011.

“The State believes such a viewing will assist the jury in better understanding the evidence presented at trial,” the motion states.

It goes on to note that McDaniel’s attorneys agree that such a visit would be beneficial.

Last month, the defense, citing “extensive media coverage,” requested a change of venue in the case. Prosecutors didn’t oppose the measure.

Bibb County Superior Court Judge Howard Simms has yet to issue a decision on where the trial will be held or when it will begin.

It wouldn’t be unusual, though, for the case to be heard in Macon by jurors brought in from another part of the state.

McDaniel, 28, who was Giddings’ next-door neighbor at Barristers Hall apartments and a Mercer University law school classmate, was charged with Giddings’ murder in August 2011.

Franklin J. Hogue, one of McDaniel’s lawyers, said taking jurors on a tour of an alleged crime scene, though a rare endeavor in a criminal proceeding, isn’t unheard of.

“I think it could be equally beneficial to either side. ... I don’t think it would hurt the defense, therefore I’m open to it ... if a judge grants it,” Hogue said.

“There may be trial points I could make from it, because of the layout of the apartments and other features of the scene that I could use in my defense of McDaniel.”

Hogue added that an apartment visit, if approved, would “certainly not (be) a key component of the case.”

Bibb District Attorney David Cooke said Tuesday’s motion speaks for itself.

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

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