Stephen McDaniel confessed to murder. Now he wants the trial he never had

Stephen McDaniel, the admitted murderer of Lauren Giddings — the next-door neighbor and Mercer University law school classmate he killed and dismembered in June 2011 — will be back in court soon.

It may well be the only chance he ever has to put his law degree to work in a courtroom.

McDaniel, who earlier this year filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, a common form of appeal, is set to have a hearing Aug. 17 in Augusta, where a judge will consider the merits of McDaniel’s claim that his constitutional rights were violated.

On the eve of trial in April 2014, McDaniel pleaded guilty to killing Giddings and is serving a life sentence at a prison in Richmond County.

The Giddings slaying, Macon’s highest-profile crime in recent memory, returned to the public eye over the weekend when the case was featured on “Dateline NBC.”


Chances are slim that McDaniel, 32, will get the trial he never had.

Those who plead guilty face an uphill battle appealing their convictions. The judge in McDaniel’s habeas proceeding, which is a civil matter that basically contends someone is being kept behind bars and shouldn’t be, will likely dismiss his claim.

McDaniel is arguing, in part, that some of the evidence against him was obtained improperly, that the cops and prosecutors broke the rules and found things they never should have.

McDaniel, who is representing himself, bears the burden of proof to show that he was somehow wronged. He is expected to call police officers and his lawyers in the murder case to testify.

“I’m not surprised,” one of those attorneys, Floyd Buford, told The Telegraph on Tuesday. “I’m not sure exactly what he’s gonna allege or try to prove.”