A year and a half after Mercer Law School grad Lauren Giddings was found murdered and dismembered in the trash can outside her apartment complex, many of the details of the ensuing investigation are now public record.
Some of the facts of the case were shared in a series of 31 motions filed by the defense team of Stephen McDaniel, Giddings' neighbor and accused killer.
The motions include affidavits from Detective David Patterson. He describes how he came upon Giddings' body. "While standing on the outside of the apartment complex, I smelled a strong odor coming from the garbage containers and observed several flies swarming around the trash containers. I immediately recognized this odor to be that of a dead person."
The affidavit talks about interrogating McDaniel later that morning. Patterson says during questioning, he noticed a red mark on the left side of his face. That's when he asked McDaniel to lift his shirt to see if he had any other marks. "He lifted his t-shirt and revealed what appeared to be two fresh scratch marks." McDaniel told Patterson he didn't know how he got the marks.
According to the affidavit, medical examiner Gaultney Kraft reported the torso had cotton shorts, but no underwear or shirt. Kraft also found a few long hairs which appeared to be brown. Patterson points out McDaniel has shoulder-length brown hair while Giddings was blond.
Patterson wrote the affidavit to outline the probable cause for search warrants of McDaniel's apartment and car. As a result, investigators seized many items, including three guns, some rope, and a foam cup with 'Lauren' written on it.
Another Affidavit from Sgt. Kenneth Scott Chapman has many of the same details in Patterson's affidavit. Chapman states investigators found a master key to the apartment complex and another key to Lauren's apartment. He also states initial testing from an FBI crime lab found blue fibers on a t-shirt in McDaniel's apartment that were similar to fibers from the blue shorts on Giddings torso.
In the early stages of the investigation, McDaniel was arrested on burglary charges. Patterson tells in his affidavit how that charge came about. He says McDaniel told Macon Police Lt. Carl Fletcher that "he was a virgin and was saving himself for marriage." But when police found several condoms in McDaniel's apartment, Fletcher questioned why he would need them, and that's when McDaniel told them he had stolen the condoms from his sister and other apartments in the complex.
One motion outlines the hours after the body was found and the cadaver dog search for the rest of the remains. The documents state the dogs alerted eight times; in Giddings' bathroom and at the front door, in the bathroom and living room of a vacant apartment below Giddings', in McDaniel's bathroom and bedroom, and twice in the apartment complex laundry room. Forensic tests from Giddings' bathroom also revealed "the possibility of substantial quantities of blood" in and around the tub.
McDaniel's attorney Frank Hogue said this evidence and all others the District Attorney's office shared during discovery are circumstantial. It's not enough to make the case a capital punishment case, Hogue argues. That's the basis for a motion he wrote asking for the judge to dismiss the District Attorney's intent to seek the death penalty.