McDaniel trial moved to Henry County

Telegraph staffMarch 19, 2014 

mcdaniel_bond

Stephen McDaniel confers with his attorneys Floyd Buford and Frank Hogue, right, during a hearing on April 3, 2012.

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The trial for accused dismemberment killer Stephen McDaniel has been moved to Henry County, according to a court order filed Wednesday.

McDaniel’s lawyers filed a motion requesting a change of venue in January, citing pretrial publicity and extensive news coverage of the June 2011 slaying of 27-year-old Mercer University law school graduate Lauren Giddings.

Giddings’ torso was found June 30, 2011, in a trash bin outside the Georgia Avenue apartment complex where she and McDaniel, 28, were neighbors. The rest of her remains have not been recovered.

The Telegraph reported in February that Bibb County had expressed interest in using Henry County’s largest courtroom, which seats about 100 people, for the trial.

The trial is scheduled to begin April 28 at the courthouse in downtown McDonough, located about 60 miles north of Macon.

Bibb County commissioners voted Tuesday to approve a maximum of $500,000 for trial expenses.

The presiding judge for the case, Judge Howard Simms, has said the cost for the trial won’t be anywhere near that amount.In the “consent order” moving the trial, Simms described media coverage as “incessant.”

Coverage of the murder case also has included references to the separate 30 counts of sexual exploitation of children filed against McDaniel. The charges stem from child pornography being found on a computer flash drive in his apartment.

References to the separate charges have become “intertwined” in potential jurors’ minds, according to the order.

McDaniel has been held at the Bibb County jail since his July 1, 2011, arrest on a burglary charge. He was charged with murder a month later.

Prosecutors initially sought the death penalty but removed capital punishment from the case last February.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398. To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

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