HELLO EVERYONE AND THANKS FOR JOINING US.
I'M LEAH JOHNSON..
AND I'M FRANK MALLOY..THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT SIX.
TONIGHT'S TOP STORY... THE MURDER CASE AGAINST FORMER MERCER LAW STUDENT STEPHEN MCDANIEL....TAKES A MAJOR STEP FORWARD.
A GRAND JURY DECIDED TODAY PROSECUTORS HAVE ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO FORMALLY CHARGE HIM WITH KILLING ANOTHER MERCER LAW GRADUATE.... LAUREN GIDDINGS.
ELEANOR LISSITZYN JOINS US NOW WITH MORE TO BEGIN TONIGHT'S TEAM COVERAGE ... ELEANOR?
THE GRAND JURY INDICTED STEPHEN MCDANIEL ON ONE COUNT OF MURDER... AND THIRTY COUNTS OF CHILD EXPLOITATION..
THAT'S CONNECTED TO CHILD PORNOGRAPHY THAT INVESTIGATORS FOUND ON A FLASH DRIVE ALLEGEDLY BELONGING TO MCDANIEL.
THE LEAD DETECTIVE IN THE CASE... DAVID PATTERSON... ARRIVED AT COURT HOUSE AT AROUND EIGHT THIRTY A.M.
HE AND DISTRICT ATTORNEY GREG WINTERS CAME DOWNSTAIRS JUST BEFORE TEN THIRTY... AND SPENT ABOUT TWENTY MINUTES WITH THE GRAND JURY... BEFORE GOING BACK UPSTAIRS.
THE HEARING IS CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC...AND THE MEDIA.
WE DIDN'T SEE ANYONE ENTERING THE ROOM EXCEPT FOR WINTERS... PATTERSON...AND THE JURORS.
THE WORD THAT MCDANIEL WAS INDICTED CAME DOWN JUST OVER AN HOUR LATER.
AGAIN... THAT DOESN'T MEAN HE'S GUILTY... IT JUST MEANS THE GRAND JURORS DECIDED DISTRICT ATTORNEY GREG WINTERS HAS A GOOD ENOUGH CASE TO FORMALLY CHARGE HIM.
PARTS OF THE MURDER INDICTMENT ARE VAGUE... IT SAYS THE EXACT DATE AND CAUSE OF DEATH ARE UNKNOWN.
BUT THE DOCUMENT SAYS STEPHEN MCDANIEL MURDERED GIDDINGS...QUOTE...
" BY INFLICTING BODILY HARM IN A MANNER UNKNOWN TO THE GRAND JURY AT THIS TIME... INCLUDING DECAPITATION OF SAID VICTIM.... WITH INSTRUMENT OR INSTRUMENTS UNKNOWN."
THAT CHARGE TOOK UP LESS THAN A PAGE.
THE SECOND INDICTMENT CONTAINED SEVENTEEN PAGES DETAILING ALL THIRTY COUNTS OF CHILD EXPLOITATION....AND DESCRIBING THE PORNOGRAPHIC IMAGES.
MCDANIEL'S ATTORNEY FLOYD BUFORD SAYS HIS CLIENT ADAMENTLY MAINTAINS HIS INNOCENCE ON ALL CHARGES... BUT BUFORD SAYS HE WASN'T SURPRISED BY THE INDICTMENT.
"Of course on an indictment they don't hear Stephens side of the case, they hear the state's side of the case. Stephen McDaniel insists upon his innocence on these charges, he looks forward to having the opportunity to contest these charges when the case is called for trial."
BUFORD SAYS HE WANTS TO TALK TO HIS CLIENT BEFORE DECIDING WHETHER TO CANCEL THAT BOND HEARING SCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY.
WINTERS SAYS HE'S ALSO NOT SURE WHAT WILL HAPPEN THURSDAY ... BUT WE DID TALK TO HIM ABOUT HIS NEXT STEP.
"The next procedural thing, he will be set down for an arraignment, not sure of the exact date of that right now. And then after that it will be set down for a trial."
Eleanor: "How quickly are you hoping to move."
Winters:"At this point it's out of our hands, it's the court calendar and we don't control the calendar so it's whenever it's set on the arrainment calendar."
THE D.A.'S OFFICE HAS WORKED CLOSELY WITH MACON POLICE ON THIS CASE... WE COULD NOT REACH POLICE CHIEF MIKE BURNS FOR COMMENT...BUT HIS OFFICE RELEASED A STATEMENT FROM THE CHIEF...SAYING...QUOTE...
"TODAY'S DECISION BY THE GRAND JURY CONFIRMS WHAT THOSE OF US PRIVY TO THE DETAILS KNEW WOULD BE THE OUTCOME. I WAS NEVER CONCERNED ABOUT MCDANIEL MAKING BOND AND HAD NO DOUBT THAT HE WOULD BE INDICTED."
BUFORD SAYS HE AND MCDANIEL WILL DECIDE TONIGHT.. OR TOMORROW MORNING... WHETHER TO CONTINUE WITH THURSDAY'S BOND HEARING.
LAUREN GIDDING'S COUSIN KATHY MANN SAYS TODAY'S NEWS COMES AS A RELIEF TO HER FAMILY.
SHE SPOKE TO CANDACE ADORKA BY PHONE THIS AFTERNOON FROM NORTH GEORGIA ABOUT MCDANIEL'S INDICTMENT AND THE SEARCH FOR THE REST OF LAUREN'S REMAINS.
Kathy Mann: "It is very significant because we don't know a lot of things that happened, why Lauren was killed, why she was dismembered. Sitting here and looking at it, it appears to us that Lauren was killed just out of the evilness of another. So we dont have a lot of answers. We are not privileged to hear a lot of the evidence collected by the FBI and the police. and so it's all in their hands. Today the grand jury heard more than we know and for them to hear some of the things that have been collected as evidence for who killed Lauren and then for the grand jury to make the decision that it was enough evidence that pointed to Lauren's murderer is very significant to us."
Candace: "Where does the search for Lauren's remains stand right now?"
Kathy Mann: "Well, they have searched the two landfills that the two dumpsters near Lauren's apartment would have been used, the city landfill there in Macon and then the landfill at Wolf Creek. Basically those searched are over and so we still do not know what has happened to the remains of Lauren and we have no information from the police or the D.A., you know, to help us with that answer.
MANN SAYS THE INDICTMENT PUTS HER FAMILY ONE STEP CLOSER TO JUSTICE.
THE INDICTMENT COMES AFTER MORE THAN FOUR MONTHS IN JAIL... FOR STEPHEN MCDANIEL.
AMY AUBERT TAKES A LOOK AT THE CASE... AND SHOWS YOU WHAT LEAD UP TO TODAY'S DECISION.
JUNE 30TH... MACON POLICE SEARCH FOR A MISSING PERSON... 27 YEAR OLD MERCER LAW GRAD... LAUREN GIDDINGS.
THAT DAY... THEY FOUND A TORSO IN A TRASHCAN OUTSIDE THE BARRISTERS HALL APARTMENTS... WHERE GIDDINGS' LIVED.
Burns: "Is it considered a homicide investigation right now?"
AT THE SCENE... A DISTRAUGHT STEPHEN MCDANIEL TALKS TO REPORTERS.
McDaniel: "We looked around the place, no sign of a struggle, no sign that anyone had broken in, just nothing. Just she was gone. All of her stuff was there, her ID was there, her wallett was there, but she was just gone."
POLICE SEARCH MCDANIEL'S APARTMENT AND ARREST HIM THE NEXT DAY...JULY 1ST... ON AN UNRELATED BURGLARY CHARGE.
CHIEF BURNS TELLS 13WMAZ THAT THEY'RE INVESTIGATING MCDANIEL AS A PERSON OF INTEREST IN THE GIDDINGS CASE.
THAT AFTERNOON... POLICE SAY THEY BELIEVE LAUREN GIDDINGS IS THE HOMICIDE VICTIM.
Burns: "The location is the main thing, plus the length of time she's been missing."
FIVE DAYS LATER... JULY 6TH... POLICE CONFIRM THE BODY IS HERS.
Burns: "I want to ask the public for their help in this investigation, the victim was dismembered."
JULY 13TH... MCDANIEL'S LAWYER ASKS A JUDGE TO DISQUALIFY THE BIBB COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FROM PROSECUTING HIM BECAUSE MCDANIEL IS A FORMER INTERN.
JULY 22ND... A JUDGE RULES THAT THE BIBB D-A CAN HANDLE THE BURGLARY CASE.
AUGUST 2ND... MCDANIEL CHARGED WITH FELONY MURDER.
A DAY LATER... AN EXPRESSIONLESS MCDANIEL APPEARED IN COURT ON THE MURDER CHARGE AND WAS DENIED BOND.
Burns: "All the evidence that we have recieved back ended up linking back to one person."
A WEEK LATER... MCDANIEL'S ATTORNEY TELLS 13WMAZ MCDANIEL IS NOT A THREAT.
Buford: "A person told me, that he's the kind of guy that may see a bug or an insect going across the floor in his room, and rather than kill him, he'd pick him up, pick the insect up, and take it outside."
AUGUST 24TH... MCDANIEL APPEARS IN COURT ON SEVEN COUNTS OF CHILD EXPLOITATION...DUE TO CHILD PORNOGRAPHY ALLEGEDLY FOUND ON A JUMP DRIVE.
TWO DAYS LATER... A COMMITMENT HEARING ON CHARGES THAT HE KILLED GIDDINGS.
NOVEMBER 8TH... MCDANIEL'S LAWYER ASKED A BIBB COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE TO SET BOND.
TUESDAY... NOVEMBER 15TH... MCDANIEL IS INDICTED ON ONE COUNT OF MURDER AND 30 COUNTS OF CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION.
>> THE INDICTMENT CHARGES THAT MCDANIEL KILLED GIDDINGS ON A QUOTE... UNKNOWN DATE WITH AN UNKNOWN INSTRUMENT.
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A SAD NOTE TONIGHT... AS DUBLIN'S LIVING LINK TO A BIT OF HOLLYWOOD LEGEND PASSED AWAY TODAY.
HE IS KARL SLOVER....WHO PLAYED ONE OF THE MUNCHKINS IN THE 1939 CLASSIC ...THE WIZARD OF OZ.
LAURENS COUNTY ASSISTANT CORONER NATHAN STANLEY SAYS SLOVER DIED THIS AFTERNOON AT FAIRVIEW PARK HOSPITAL.
AT FOUR-FOOT-FIVE...KARL PLAYED THE LEAD TRUMPTER IN THE MUNCHKINS BAND.
WHEN WE SPOKE TO HIM FOUR YEARS AGO...HE SAID HE MADE JUST 50 DOLLARS FOR HIS WORK IN THE MOVIE...BUT IT PUT HIM ON THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD TO OTHER FILM ROLES.
WELL INTO HIS NINETIES...SLOVER TRAVELED THE WORLD TO ATTEND WIZARD OF OZ FAN FESTIVALS.
KARL SLOVER WAS 93.
EIGHT CENTRAL GEORGIANS ARE ACCUSED OF HELPING TRAFFIC COCAINE AND MARIJUANA.
THE BIBB COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE... THE U-S POSTAL SERVICE AND OTHER AGENCIES ANNOUNCED THE ARRESTS TODAY.
THE AGENCIES SAY MORE ARRESTS COULD BE MADE IN THE CASE.
A NEWS RELEASE SAYS A POLICE TEAM SEIZED GUNS... VEHICLES AND OTHER PROPERTY WHILE CARRYING OUT SEARCH WARRANTS EARLY LAST MONTH.
IT SAYS THEY ALSO FOUND ABOUT 31 POUNDS OF MARIJUANA WITH AN ESTIMATED STREET VALUE OF 75 THOUSAND DOLLARS.
THE TEAM ALSO DISCOVERED ABOUT 420 GRAMS OF COCAINE... WORTH ABOUT 41 THOUSAND DOLLARS ON THE STREET.
THE FIRST OF TWO PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THE NEXT HOUSTON COUNTY SPLOST STARTED JUST MOMENTS AGO.
IT'S AT THE HOUSTON COUNTY ANNEX IN WARNER ROBINS... OFF CARL VINSON PARKWAY.
THE BIGGEST PORTION OF THE MONEY IS SLATED TO GO TO TRANSPORTATION.
THAT'S 27-PERCENT OR ABOUT 42 MILLION DOLLARS.
THE LIST INCLUDE SIDEWALKS THROUGHOUT THE THREE CITIES AND COUNTY... FIVE MAJOR ROAD WIDENING PROJECTS... AND ABOUT A HALF MILLION DOLLARS TO PLAN ANOTHER ENTRANCE TO ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE.
HERE'S A LOOK AT HOW THE COUNTY MANAGED THE MONEY FOR ROADS FROM THE PAST TWO PENNY SALES TAX COLLECTIONS.
IN 2001... COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR STEVE ENGLE SAYS ABOUT 80-PERCENT OF THE MONEY WENT TO ROAD IMPROVEMENTS.
ABOUT 70-PERCENT IN 2006.
OF THE TWENTY-EIGHT 2001 PROJECTS... 23 ARE FINISHED.
OF THE 13 2006 ROAD PROJECTS... 8 ARE DONE.
FOLKS PLANNING TO GET UP EARLY... OR STAY UP LATE... AND GET SOME BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING DONE CAN GET AN EXTRA-EARLY START THIS YEAR.
TOYS-R-US WILL OPEN AT 9 P-M ON THANKSGIVING DAY...NOW THE STORE IN WARNER ROBINS SAYS THEY HAVEN'T DECIDED ON A TIME YET.
OTHERS GETTING AN EARLY START...
... WAL-MART OPENS AT 10 P-M...
AND OTHER RETAILERS LIKE TARGET... MACY'S... BEST BUY AND KOHL'S WILL WELCOME SHOPPERS AT MIDNIGHT.
THAT MIGHT MAKE MORE SHOPPERS HAPPY... BUT SOME WORKERS AREN'T SHARING THAT JOY.
THOUSANDS OF TARGET EMPLOYEES HAVE STARTED AN ONLINE CAMPAIGN... SAYING THEY WANT TO SPEND THANKSGIVING WITH THEIR FAMILIES.
WE WANT TO KNOW IF YOU PLAN TO HOP IN LINE AT A STORE ON THANKSGIVING NIGHT.
TODAY'S 13WMAZ DOT COM WEB POLL ASKS... WILL YOU SHOP ON THANKSGIVING NIGHT?
SO FAR 85 PERCENT SAY YOU DON'T PLAN ON IT.
AND 15 PERCENT OF YOU SAY YES... YOU'LL BE THERE.
VOTE NOW... LOOK FOR THE QUESTION ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF OUR HOMEPAGE AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.