Lawyers for accused killer Stephen McDaniel requested more time Monday to draft pretrial motions, in part because prosecutors have yet to hand over “a number of missing items” of discovery, they say.
Among the items are lab results of tests on hairs found on the torso of Lauren Giddings, the woman McDaniel allegedly killed in June 2011, hairs that police reports suggest came from McDaniel.
In an interview, Franklin J. Hogue, one of McDaniel’s attorneys, described some of the missing items as “mostly inadvertent omissions,” but he said “some of it I’m curious why we don’t have it yet.”
He said the evidence prosecutors handed over did not include lab reports of testing done on strands of hair. The hairs were found during Giddings’ autopsy and, later, in a refrigerator that detectives seized from the apartment beneath hers.
In their applications for search warrants, detectives noted finding “a few hairs which appeared to be brown in color and several inches long on (Giddings’) abdomen, and a clump of hair on the back of the shorts which appeared to be made up of a mixture of brown and blonde hair. ... Stephen McDaniel has long shoulder-length brown hair. Lauren Giddings had blonde hair.”
Hogue said “it appears those things got sent to the FBI lab, but I don’t have any FBI-lab report concerning them.”
Hogue, however, doesn’t think prosecutors are withholding anything. “Missing” discovery items for such things as, say, detectives’ reports are common in cases with so much evidence.
Prosecutors still are waiting for lab results from the FBI, said Nancy Scott Malcor, the circuit’s chief assistant district attorney.
“We don’t have it yet,” Malcor said. There’s no estimate for when all lab reports will be returned.
Aside from the reports from items still being tested, District Attorney David Cooke said to prosecutors’ knowledge, McDaniel’s lawyers have been given copies of all reports and materials prosecutors have.
Hogue said he plans to prepare a list for prosecutors.
Once prosecutors have that list, Cooke said his office can determine what may or may not be missing.
He said the discovery process is ongoing.
Discovery materials in the death-penalty case were first turned over to McDaniel’s lawyers beginning last spring. Monday’s motion doesn’t list specific things prosecutors may have yet to hand over.
“I don’t impute any bad faith to anybody, including the police department,” Hogue said. “You’ve got around 1,100 pages of stuff, plus all the rest of the physical evidence that was seized, and a lot of it is scattered here and there.”
The original deadline for the defense team’s pretrial motions was Aug. 31. McDaniel’s lawyers later requested an extension to Dec. 15.
The defense filed 31 motions Dec. 14, and has asked for a new deadline of April 30.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398. To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.