Today, Judge William Shurling ruled Bibb County District Attorney Greg Winters meant the ‘burden of proof’ in charging 25 year old Stephen McDaniel with the felony murder of 27 year old Mercer Law grad Lauren Giddings.
It took Judge Shurling a little more than an hour to hear arguments from both sides before reaching his decision.
Only one person took the stand at Friday’s hearing, lead detective in the Giddings’ murder, David Patterson.
Winters asked Patterson if police found any substantial evidence in McDaniel’s apartment during one of many searches since June 30th.
He stated police did, ” Yes, a master key to all of the apartments, an actual key to Lauren Giddings’ apartment, and a hacksaw package.”
Patterson said although McDaniel allowed police to search his apartment he appeared nervous.
“He was concerned, because he had been in Lauren’s apartment the night prior helping with the search for her. He was concerned he might have picked up something on his clothing or shoes and brought it into his apartment,” says Patterson.
According to Patterson, it was McDaniel’s ‘distraught’ behavior that lead police to call him a person of interest.
McDaniel’s attorney, Floyd Burford, asked Patterson if he verified the serial number of the hacksaw with retailers. Patterson said the serial number was the generic numbers for all those models.
Buford also questioned Patterson about the master key. According to Buford, several master keys are in circulation. Patterson confirmed multiple people do have a master key.
Over the course of the investigation Buford has been working with a private investigator. Buford says the investigator has uncovered new clues including a blue glove in the laundry room.
In the end the new evidence wasn’t enough to sway Judge Shurling to dismisses the charges. Shurling denied bond for McDaniel and will allow the case to move forward to a grand jury. No date has been set at thsi time for the grand jury.