McDaniel’s parting shot: I was wronged

Telegraph StaffApril 25, 2014 

When Stephen McDaniel pleaded guilty this week to murdering his Mercer University law school classmate, unbeknownst to many in the courtroom, he thumbed his nose at the people who helped send him to prison.

In a handwritten salvo, which his lawyers passed to the judge unceremoniously, the confessed killer of Lauren Giddings said he was wronged by the system.

“He wanted to make an issue out of the way he believes the Macon police treated him,” said Franklin J. Hogue, one of McDaniel’s attorneys.

In the undated, two-page document, McDaniel, 28, sentenced to life, repeatedly alleges that Macon police and members of the Bibb County District Attorney’s Office violated his rights June 30, 2011.

That was the day Giddings’ torso turned up in a trash can outside the Georgia Avenue apartments where McDaniel and Giddings lived next door to one another.

On Thursday, two lead detectives in the investigation spoke with reporters and reflected on a case that spanned nearly three years.

The pair hadn’t heard about McDaniel’s claims and had no comment on them.

Detective David Patterson, though, did say he didn’t believe everything in the confession McDaniel offered as part of his plea, in which he admitted strangling and dismembering Giddings.

“At least some of what he revealed does fit into what we believe (happened),” Patterson said.

Detective Scott Chapman, who never envisioned McDaniel owning up to the killing, said he hoped McDaniel’s plea gave Giddings’ family some measure of relief.

“The mother has described going to bed every night with the nightmare of not knowing what her daughter went through,” Chapman said. “Now that they have some understanding of what may have occurred, maybe they can begin to make some peace with things.”

In McDaniel’s parting shot broadside, filed in Superior Court and labeled with a sticker, “Defendant’s Exhibit Re: Addendum to Motions to Suppress,” he alleges he was denied access to his apartment after giving police a recorded statement.

He said he complied with police commands to ride with an officer to the Detective Bureau at City Hall, but when McDaniel asked if he could lock his apartment first, he was told he couldn’t.

While at the Detective Bureau, McDaniel alleges he asked for water and that an investigator yelled a refusal back at him and said he had to have permission to use the restroom or get water.

McDaniel claims an “armed guard” waited outside the door to the room where he was held, though he wasn’t under arrest.

He contends police used “peer pressure and preconceived deception” to get him to agree to a search of his apartment.

‘Emotional shock’

McDaniel also describes his encounter with the media.

After being allowed to go back to his apartment complex, but barred from going in his home, McDaniel talked with reporters.

After being told by a reporter that Giddings had been found on the property, “I collapsed from the mental and emotional shock of the news, because, despite my own actions, at the time, my mental state was such that I was unaware of her death,” McDaniel wrote.

He went next door to the AT&T building and “remained weeping uncontrollably for close to an hour.”

Once McDaniel emerged, he talked with reporters again. Then, a detective “ordered” him to go with him.

“While on the verge of hyperventilating, I suffered what an Emergency Medical Technician diagnosed as a seizure,” McDaniel wrote.

He said he lost consciousness and then was placed in the police Mobile Command Center, a recreational vehicle, that was parked in front of the apartments.

McDaniel alleges an EMT was barred from giving him further aid and that authorities bargained with him, saying they’d let him be treated if he let them search his apartment.

“I could not leave, was being deprived of medical care, and believed my life was in jeopardy from some type of medical emergency,” McDaniel wrote.

While in police custody, he alleges he lost sensation in his extremities, had difficulty breathing and had pain in his head.

While being interrogated that night and early the next morning, McDaniel alleges he was insulted and threatened.

One investigator allegedly said, “I hope they kill you and later joked that I was going to be sexually assaulted,” McDaniel wrote.

McDaniel closes the document by saying his allegations don’t excuse his conduct.

“When police and prosecutors can only obtain evidence and convictions by violating people’s rights and testifying falsely, and when courts ratify such misconduct by the refusal to exclude evidence, ... the entire system of criminal justice becomes a sham to conceal that those entrusted with upholding the law are its worst violators,” McDaniel wrote. “A murderer knows and admits the wrong that is done in his crime.”

Bibb District Attorney David Cooke said Thursday, “I’m sure Stephen McDaniel shared these concerns with (his) two excellent attorneys who, after hearing his concerns, agreed that his best course of action was to plead guilty to the murder of Lauren Giddings.”

To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

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