McDaniel trial could be moved to Henry County

Telegraph staffFebruary 21, 2014 

McDaneil_Hearing

Stephen McDaniel Friday arrives in court for a hearing earlier this year.

WOODY MARSHALL — wmarshall@macon.com Buy Photo

The murder trial of accused dismemberment killer Stephen McDaniel, scheduled to begin April 28, may be held in McDonough.

Henry County has received consideration, officials there said, though Bibb Superior Court Judge Howard Simms has yet to issue a venue change order.

The site of the high-profile trial in the slaying of Mercer University law school graduate Lauren Giddings has been up in the air since McDaniel’s lawyers filed a change-of-venue motion last month.

Bibb court representatives were expected to tour the downtown McDonough courtroom in the next week or two if Henry County is still in the mix, chief Henry Superior Court Judge Arch McGarity said.

Downtown McDonough is just east of Interstate 75, about 60 miles north of Macon.

McGarity said Bibb County has expressed interest in using Henry County’s largest courtroom, which seats about 100 people.

There is an overflow room nearby that seats 80 or so that would enable spectators to view a closed-circuit television feed of proceedings.

Simms said Thursday that “no final decision has been made.”

“It’s a possibility,” he said, declining further comment.

Defense lawyers, in asking that the trial be moved, cited pretrial publicity, “extensive” news coverage of the June 2011 killing.

Simms could deny the request, move the trial to another county or bring in a jury from somewhere else.

Giddings, 27, had recently graduated from law school when she was slain.

McDaniel, now 28, a graduating classmate who was her next-door neighbor at their Georgia Avenue apartment complex, was jailed in the hours after Giddings’ torso was found in trash bin outside her residence.

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