Judge Denies Stephen McDaniel's Request for Lower Bond

11:13 PM, Jun 19, 2012   |    comments
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SLIDESHOW: Photos of Tuesday's hearing, by Suzanne Lawler

A Bibb County judge today denied murder suspect Stephen McDaniel's request for lower bond.

McDaniel will remain in the Bibb County jail on $850,000 bond, charged with the murder of Lauren Giddings.

After a hearing that lasted about an hour, Judge S. Philip Brown said, "For now, I'm going to leave things as they are."

This came after a prosecutor admitted that they may have used bogus evidence in a previous bond hearing.

 

In April, Bibb County District Attorney Greg Winters read a lurid online post about the murder of Lauren Giddings.

He said it was written by murder defendant Stephen McDaniel.

On Tuesday, one of his assistants says the FBI has raised questions about whether McDaniel wrote the so-called "Son of Liberty" post.

She said prosecutors have agreed to throw the post out of the case and asked a judge to disregard it.

McDaniel returned to today to see if a judge will reduce his bond.

McDaniel is charged with killing Giddings, his neighbor and fellow Mercer Law School student, nearly a year ago.

In April, Judge Phillip Brown set McDaniel's bond at $850,000.

The bond also set conditions.

Those include the order that McDaniel must stay at his parents' home in Lilburn and can't have any unsupervised contact with children.

He also can't use a computer or telephone except to contact his lawyers.

McDaniel's lawyers argued that the bond was too much for his parents to pay.

Subpoena for Bibb prosecutor

Today's hearing began with a discussion of a subpoena by the defense to Gary Wood, a prosecutor in the district attorney's office.

Nancy Scott Malcor said the DA's office has received information from the FBI questioning the validity of a post read by DA Greg Winters at an April bond hearing.

She said the DA's office got the information by email on April 16 and shared it with defense lawyers the next day.

She said they want to delay the hearing until the matter is resolved -- possibly this week.

But she's also asking to quash the subpoena.

Winters read the so-called "Son of Liberty" post in court in April. In it, a person posting as "SoL" discussed raping and killing Giddings.

It says, in part, "Make her a special drink called a mickey finn. She's out cold. I finally lose my v-card. Oh no she O.D.'d and died. I barbecue her arms and legs to celebrate losing my v-card. Not in to organ meat. Throw her torso out. Lose it on TV while the cops are discovering her remains."

Winters argued that the post was written by McDaniel.

But McDaniel's lawyers argued in April that the post could have been written by anyone using the online name "SoL." They also say it was supposedly posted during a period on June 30 when McDaniel was under police supervision and could not have written the post.

Scott Malcor said Tuesday that they've agreed to withdraw that post as evidence and will ask the court not to consider it.

Danger to children

Lawyers on both sides moved on to discuss whether McDaniel posted a threat to children in his family's Lilburn home.

Defense lawyer Floyd Buford read an affidavit from McDaniel's mother saying that the suspect will not be left alone with any minor children.

Bond amount

Next, Frank Hogue, the other defense lawyer, argued that the $850,000 bond set back in April was violates McDaniel's 8th Amendment rights. He argued that it's higher than necessary to guarantee that he will appear for trial.

He called it "excessive."

"That's what we have here -- absolutely impossible for this family to come anywhere near the amount for this bond.

Scott Malcor said the McDaniel family now has new assets because the suspect's maternal grandfather has died. But Buford said that hasn't brought any money to the family.

 

He said they've spoken to an ankle-bracelet monitoring company that will monitor McDaniel, and said the Gwinnett and Bibb sheriff's office can work out a plan for supervising him.

Judge takes a break

Around 2:10, Judge Brown said he wanted to let the two sides talk to each other about their bond concerns and left the courtroom. He said "Excuse me for a moment," as he checked what looked like a cell phone from his pocket.

Brown returned to the bench around 2:25.

Around 2:30, after more discussion, he said he would not change the bond at this time.

 

 

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