McDaniel trial date set; Giddings family ‘prays for justice’

Telegraph StaffFebruary 14, 2014 

McDaneil_Hearing

WOODY MARSHALL/THE TELEGRAPH Macon, Georgia, 01/10/2014: Stephen McDaniel Friday arrives for his hearing Friday.

WOODY MARSHALL — wmarshall@macon.com Buy Photo

Jury selection in the trial of accused dismemberment killer Stephen McDaniel is scheduled to begin April 28.

Bibb County Superior Court Judge Howard Simms set the date Friday but did not announce where the case will be heard.

Lawyers for the 28-year-old McDaniel, citing “extensive” pretrial publicity, last month asked for a venue change. Simms has not ruled on the request.

A late April trial start would come two months shy of three years since aspiring lawyer Lauren Giddings, 27, was found dead outside her Macon apartment.

McDaniel was Giddings’ next-door neighbor and a fellow Mercer University law school classmate. He was charged with her murder in August 2011.

Giddings’ torso, wrapped in plastic, was found in a curbside trash can outside their Georgia Avenue apartments on June 30, 2011.

On Friday, Giddings’ sister Kaitlyn Wheeler, who lives in her native Maryland, was “thankful” the case is proceeding.

“It’s been a long, hard road, and we know this isn’t the end,” Wheeler said. “The trial will bring up new struggles for us. We pray for justice and the strength to carry on.”

Asked about the spring trial date, Bibb District Attorney David Cooke, who is prosecuting the case, said, “We expect to be ready.”

One of McDaniel’s attorneys, Floyd Buford, said, “We’ll be prepared.”

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

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