Without Indictment, McDaniel Could Post Bond Soon

8:54 PM, Nov 14, 2011   |    comments
Stephen McDaniel at his August commitment hearing on murder charges. Suzanne Lawler photo.
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Stephen McDaniel, the man accused of murdering Mercer Law graduate Lauren Giddings, could soon be entitled to release on bond. 

VIEW: Latest News on the Lauren Giddings Case

The reason, according to Bibb County Chief Assistant Public Defender Rick Waller, is that prosecutors have 90 days from the date of arrest to persuade a grand jury to hand up an indictment.

After that, Waller says McDaniel would be entitled to bond.

But Giddings' sister, Kaitlyn Wheeler, says she doesn't think McDaniel will be released, contending he poses a risk to the public.

McDaniel is charged with felony murder, two burglaries, and child exploitation in connection with pornography that investigators say they found in his apartment.

Prosecutors filed the most recent charges -- seven counts of child exploitation -- on August 23.

That means District Attorney Greg Winters has until next Monday to indict McDaniel, or risk his release on bond.

When we asked Winters on Monday, he wouldn't say when he plans to bring the McDaniel case before the grand jury. It regularly meets Tuesday mornings.

McDaniel's attorney Floyd Buford has already asked for a bond hearing and it's scheduled for Thursday, four days before the 90-day deadline.

Buford says he plans to argue that because McDaniel's parents live in Lilburn and he has no previous arrests, McDaniel is a good candidate for bond.

But Kaitlyn Wheeler says she can't imagine that a man facing as many felonies as McDaniel would not be considered a hazard.

"They have a reason for holding him this long. So, if they don't think he's a harm to the public, I don't know why he's been in jail.," says Wheeler. "All the evidence is pointing his way from what we've known and what's been released. We don't know much, just like everybody else, but they have been holding him for a reason, and they charged him for a reason."

She's said all along that she'd rather the district attorney's office do its job well than try to hurry the case. But she says the family is getting impatient.

The public defender's office says that even if McDaniel is entitled to bond, that doesn't mean he could afford to pay it.

Rick Waller in the public defender's office says, in other murder cases, he's seen bond set as high as $1 million. Waller is not involved in McDaniel's case.

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