Lawyers for accused killer Stephen McDaniel say he denies writing a graphic, sexually suggestive Internet message that prosecutors attributed to McDaniel at a bond hearing earlier this month.
Experts are examining the Internet posting that prosecutors allege McDaniel authored under the screen name “SoL,” short for “Son of Liberty,” a source familiar with investigation said Friday.
The post’s veracity has been the subject of speculation for more than a month. Its existence was first made public in court at McDaniel’s April 3 bond hearing on a murder charge in last June’s slaying of 27-year-old Lauren Giddings, a fellow 2011 Mercer University law school graduate who lived next door to McDaniel.
Giddings’ dismembered torso was discovered in a trash can outside her Georgia Avenue apartment building June 30. If convicted, McDaniel, 26, could face the death penalty.
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McDaniel’s attorneys soon will have the chance to argue in court why they think their client’s bond should be reconsidered by a judge and, possibly, try to debunk prosecution claims that McDaniel wrote the post.
Notice of the June 19 bond reconsideration hearing was filed in Bibb County Superior Court this week.
According to an official transcript of the April proceeding, Bibb County District Attorney Greg Winters, in introducing the “SoL” message, said, “Your honor, there are a number of posts that he does, but I will read the court one of them. One of his posts states -- and this is from the moniker SoL:
‘Graduate from law school, party hard by drinking alone in front of my computer. See my sexy neighbor/classmate come home late, wasted from a graduation party. She has talked to me occasionally in the past. Has wanted (to have sex with me) for three years. Invite her up for a nightcap, make her a special drink called a Mickey Finn.’”
Winters explained that a Mickey Finn is a drink “laced with drugs” to knock someone out.
“She’s out cold,” the prosecutor continued. “I finally lose my V-card. Oh, no. She OD’d and died. I barbecue her legs and arms to celebrate losing my V-card. Not into organ meats. Throw her torso out. Lose it on TV while the cops are discovering her remains. You mad virgins.”
Floyd Buford, one of McDaniel’s lawyers, said Friday that McDaniel denies authoring the post.
Word that the post might be a fake appears to have first surfaced on the legal website AboveTheLaw.
The Giddings case has, almost since it began last summer, at times prompted armchair sleuthing frenzies among online message board devotees -- some of whom have turned the Giddings case and its mysteries, as one source close to the case has privately put it, “into a parlor game.”
Last August, The Telegraph first reported and independently verified posts by “SoL” and linked them to McDaniel.
McDaniel’s attorneys have acknowledged that he was a regular on an Internet message board, where at least one picture of McDaniel with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was uploaded -- as was a query for volunteers in a mock trial McDaniel took part in during law school in November 2010.
In April, Bibb County Superior Court Chief Judge S. Phillip Brown granted McDaniel a $850,000 bond on the murder charge.
McDaniel’s attorneys have argued that the bond amount is excessive and have requested that Brown reconsider the bond amount.
His attorneys contend that a bond higher than $100,000 would be akin to denying bond because McDaniel’s family wouldn’t be able to afford to pay.
Brown has ordered that McDaniel, if released, must wear an ankle monitor, be confined to his parents’ home in Lilburn, not have unsupervised contact with children and not have access to electronic communication devices or weapons. In addition to the murder charge, McDaniel faces 30 counts of sexual exploitation of children after police found a flash drive containing child pornography in his apartment.
Under Brown’s order, he would be allowed to travel to attend court and see his lawyers. He also would be allowed to use a cell phone or computer to communicate with his lawyers and parents.
McDaniel must submit a plan to the court prior to his release to explain how he will abide by conditions of his release.
McDaniel’s attorneys have argued that McDaniel doesn’t pose a “significant danger” to his young siblings.
Winters initially requested the bond be set at $2.5 million.
No bond has been set on the sex charges or two counts of burglary for which McDaniel also is accused.
McDaniel must post bond for all charges against him before he will be released from the Bibb County jail where he’s been held since his July 1 arrest.
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.