Prosecutors presented a new indictment to grand jurors Tuesday, slightly changing the language in the charges against accused killer Stephen McDaniel.
Had the initial indictment stood until the scheduled January trial, McDaniel might have been acquitted by a directed verdict, said Franklin J. Hogue, one of McDaniel’s lawyers.
McDaniel was first indicted Nov. 15, 2011, in the June 2011 slaying and dismemberment of his Mercer law school classmate and neighbor Lauren Giddings. The new indictment was filed Tuesday afternoon in Bibb County Superior Court.
Both indictments charge McDaniel, 28, with one count of murder. The first, which charges McDaniel with murder, specifically alleges McDaniel decapitated Giddings while the second, which charges him with malice murder, does not.
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District Attorney David Cooke said prosecutors reviewed the first indictment in light of the most recent Supreme Court decisions and decided they needed to refine it before trial.
Hogue, who along with Macon lawyer Floyd Buford represents McDaniel, said the initial indictment was “flawed” in that it alleged McDaniel murdered Giddings in “some unknown way” that included decapitation.
Giddings’ torso was found June 30, 2011, in a trash can outside the Georgia Avenue apartments where Giddings and McDaniel lived. Her other remains have never turned up.
Evidence at trial would not have supported the allegation that McDaniel decapitated Giddings while she was alive, as alleged in the first indictment. In response, the defense would have asked the judge for a “directed verdict of acquittal” because prosecutors would have failed to prove the allegations of the indictment, Hogue said.
Cooke and Hogue said the new indictment should not affect plans for jury selection in the case to begin Jan. 6.
“Both sides are ready to try this case,” Cooke said.
McDaniel additionally was indicted on 30 counts of sexual exploitation of children after authorities found child pornography on a flash drive in his apartment.
He is being held at the Bibb County jail.
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.