Giddings' Father: Family Divided on Death Penalty

7:21 AM, Feb 22, 2013   |    comments
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District Attorney David Cooke says he will not seek the death penalty against Lauren Giddings' accused killer, at the request of her family.

In a news conference this morning, Cooke announced that he had withdrawn his motion requesting the death penalty for Stephen McDaniel.

He said that decision will bring the case to trial sooner.

McDaniel, a former Mercer Law School student, is accused of killing his neighbor and classmate in June 2011 and dismembering her body.

Cooke said the family still believes that McDaniel deserves to be prosecuted "to the full extent of the law," but that the move will bring justice sooner.

Thursday, Bill Giddings, the victim's father, called it a very tough decision."

He said his wife, Karen Giddings, started the family discussion on the issue. She is personal opposed to the death penalty, largely due to the family's Catholic faith.

"She was always uncomfortable with the death penalty, not just since Lauren's death, but even before that," he said.

And that set off a discussion among family members, he said.

"Some of us felt the death penalty was appropriate, and some of us felt life in prison was sufficient."

In the end, he said, the drawn-out appeal process also factored into their decision.

"We asked did we want to drag that out? and we really didn't," he said. "We just think it's the best thing to do to move this case along."

One thing the family agrees on is that McDaniel will eventually be convicted: "We know he's guilty, and the evidence has proved that."

With the death penalty off the table, Cooke said, McDaniel is likely to come to trial within a year and a half. Two recent Bibb County death penalty cases came to trial six to seven years after the murder, he said.

The DA said he considered the family's request and also consulted other experts, but the final decision was his.

The Giddings family lives in Maryland; 27-year-old Lauren Giddings was killed in her apartment near Mercer Law School in downtown Macon.

 

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