Mercer Law killer Stephen McDaniel in court requesting 'fair' trial

    Danielle Apolinar (WGXA)

    RICHMOND COUNTY, Ga. -- Convicted killer Stephen McDaniel appeared before Judge John Flythe to petition for a "fair" trial in Augusta on Friday after filing a habeas corpus in February 2018.

    In 2014, McDaniel plead guilty to malice murder for the 2011 killing and dismembering of Mercer Law School graduate Lauren Giddings. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    McDaniel walked into the Richmond County courtroom around 9:30 a.m., shackled and wearing a correctional uniform, then unloaded thousands of documents from boxes and mesh bags.


    McDaniel cited four grounds in the habeas corpus Friday, which his father Mark McDaniel filed on behalf of his son earlier this year in Giddings' killing.

    The four grounds McDaniel cited are:

    • He claims that he was in a "catatonic state" and that a proper warrant wasn't filed to search his apartment
    • McDaniel said the state gained insight to his defense strategy and used that against him through intercepted records of his legal research while imprisoned
    • He says that the judge was prejudiced against him
    • McDaniels claims that he had ineffective assistance

    McDaniel also named five witnesses to bring to the stand, but only three were present on Friday.

    Chief Assistant District Attorney Nancy Malcor was questioned about the information about McDaniel's legal research that the state allegedly "intercepted" while he was imprisoned.

    "I can assure you I was not interested in your legal research," said Malcor during Friday's proceedings. She said the emails weren't relevant to the case or its outcome and even sent them to one of McDaniel's attorneys Frank Hogue, who said he thought there was "no significance at all" to them.

    Floyd Buford, formerly part of McDaniel's defense team, was asked about alleged "ineffective assistance." Buford said McDaniel's defense team spent many hours on the case and claimed "Anything I thought would help your case, I'd be all ears."

    Buford also said he'd thought that McDaniel was innocent before he "confessed" graphic details of how he killed and dismembered Giddings. "You took her head and limbs and put it in the law school dumpster," he said.

    According to Buford, McDaniel also confessed to having child pornography on his computer as well as researching having sex with dead bodies. He said that McDaniel's own accounts combined with evidence "made us think you were guilty."

    Buford also said that McDaniel is raising these issues from the perspective of a law student and that he's never stepped into a real courtroom.

    "You started out with a death penalty and ended with life with the possibility of parole," Buford told McDaniel.

    This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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