Stephen Mark McDaniel considered Lauren Giddings, his neighbor and Mercer law school classmate, a friend, his mother says.
Glenda McDaniel said she even asked her son once whether romance was possible between him and Giddings or any other woman.
He told her that his focus was on completing law school, she said, and he didn’t have time for a relationship.
Before his July 1 arrest on burglary charges unrelated to Giddings’ slaying and dismemberment, the 25-year-old McDaniel was planning on taking the bar exam at the end of the month. He hoped to get a job as a prosecutor, and he was pursuing job opportunities, his mother said in a phone interview Thursday.
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Giddings, 27, also was studying for the bar exam after she and McDaniel graduated in May.
Glenda McDaniel said she has visited her son at the Bibb County jail, but she has been allowed to see him just once a week.
“He is very upset,” she said.
Jail records show McDaniel’s father and grandfather also have visited him in the two weeks he’s been behind bars.
Macon police have called McDaniel a person of interest in the Giddings homicide investigation, but officials haven’t named any suspects or made an arrest in the case.
Police have questioned McDaniel for about 20 hours, his mother said.
She said she got a phone call from a police detective about 1 a.m. July 1 -- while police were questioning McDaniel -- and the detective asked whether her son had “a mental problem,” if he was on medication or if he had another vehicle.
At one point, McDaniel himself got on the phone and talked with his mother.
“He was very much in shock,” she said. He was arrested hours later, just before 5 a.m.
McDaniel doesn’t drink alcohol, smoke or do drugs, his mother said, and he’s never been violent.
“He would have liked to have been able to help his friend,” she said.
McDaniel is being held without bond on two felony counts of burglary stemming from allegations that he entered two of his neighbors’ unlocked homes at Barristers Hall apartments on Georgia Avenue two years ago and took a condom from each.
The Bibb County District Attorney’s Office hasn’t responded to a court motion filed Wednesday by McDaniel’s attorney asking that a judge determine whether local prosecutors should be disqualified from prosecuting McDaniel based on his work as a law clerk in their office.
A date hasn’t been set for a hearing on the issue, said McDaniel’s attorney, Floyd Buford.
Police still are awaiting results of lab tests being performed by the FBI on more than 70 pieces of evidence gathered during their investigation of Giddings’ slaying, said Jami Gaudet, a police spokeswoman.
Police found Giddings’ torso outside her apartment June 30.
The body is being held by the GBI, Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said.
Based on the level of decomposition of the remains, Jones said it didn’t appear as though Giddings had been dead for a long time.
He wouldn’t comment on what tool authorities believe was used to dismember Giddings. Jones would only say that the remains were wrapped in some kind of material.
Although McDaniel is considered a person of interest in the murder investigation, no request has been filed for his jailhouse phone calls to be monitored, said Sgt. Sean DeFoe, Bibb County sheriff’s spokesman.
As of Thursday afternoon, McDaniel had made just one phone call. He called his lawyer soon after his arrest, DeFoe said.
Every call placed by an inmate at the jail is accompanied by a notice on the line that the call is being recorded -- and may be monitored. Inmates’ calls to lawyers are not recorded, he said.
Because of the “high profile” of the Giddings homicide case and McDaniel being a person of interest, he is being held in a cell by himself in the infirmary section of the jail.
People being held at the jail in connection with sex crimes and high profile murder cases receive similar treatment, DeFoe said.
“It’s for his safety and protection,” he said.
Glenda McDaniel said her son does have friends and is not a “lone wolf” recluse, as he’s recently been portrayed in media reports.
During law school, Giddings was president of Mercer’s chapter of The Federalist Society. Stephen McDaniel was vice president, his mother said.
On one occasion, Giddings was unable to attend a Federalist Society meeting in Washington, D.C., and she asked McDaniel to go in her place. As a result, McDaniel got the chance to meet Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, his hero.
Glenda McDaniel said her son admires Thomas’ integrity.
His goal, she said, is to serve on the United States Supreme Court.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.