Behind the scenes of Stephen McDaniel’s guilty plea; claims he was “wronged” by the system

April 28, 2014

Stephen McDaniel

This will hopefully be the last time we will ever hear from Stephen McDaniel, the 28-year-old law school graduate who pleaded guilty last week to the murder of his 28-year-old neighbor, Lauren Giddings. In new reports from The Telegraph, which has been an excellent source of info for this case, McDaniel’s guilty plea almost didn’t happen. If you’re unfamiliar with this case, you can read my prior posts about it HERE.

The guilty plea came in just minutes before McDaniel’s hearing was scheduled to begin, and it was never a sure thing until the very last minute.

From The Telegraph:

On the Thursday before the hearing, McDaniel offered to plead guilty and write out a confession if Giddings’ parents dropped a wrongful death lawsuit they’d filed against him and if prosecutors dismissed the additional burglary and sexual exploitation of children charges.

The Giddings family agreed that if the confession was “fulsome, truthful and verifiable” they would drop the wrongful death lawsuit against him. When they received the draft of the confession, they thought it was drafted to fit the known evidence and that it was only partially truthful.

Miller said she and the Giddingses were suspicious of McDaniel’s claim that Giddings wedged herself under her bed. With her lower body strength, she would have been able to fight free, Miller said.

They also found it odd that he didn’t admit to taking a weapon — or something — to subdue Giddings.

Miller said it was troublesome that McDaniel said he disposed of Giddings’ head, arms and legs in a trash bin at Mercer’s law school, knowing that police had searched the part of the landfill where that trash had been dumped and found nothing.

Minutes before the hearing was scheduled to begin last week, the parties reached an agreement.

The Giddings family agreed to a consent judgment against McDaniel in which he was found liable for Lauren’s death. If McDaniel is ever paroled, her family will be eligible to received monetary compensation from him.

The Telegraph is also reporting that McDaniel’s attorneys gave a note to the judge from McDaniel himself, detailing ways in which he feels he was “wronged” by the system.

Among his claims in the letter:

  • On the morning Lauren’s partial remains were found, McDaniel claims he was not asked if he would accompany a police officer to the police station, but he was instructed to do so.
  • Before he left with the officer to the police station, he asked if he could lock his apartment and the officer would not let him.
  • He was “subjected” to a pat-down and placed in an interrogation room once he arrived at the station.
  • He requested a cup of water and the officer “yelled” a refusal at him.
  • The detective asked McDaniel if they could search his apartment and when McDaniel refused to consent, he was “placed back into the interrogation room” and was told he had to obtain permission if he wanted to get water or use the bathroom.
  • The detective “coerced” him by “use of peer pressure and a preconceived deception to obtain consent under false pretenses.”
  • The detective then ordered McDaniel to lift up his shirt and “it had been demonstrated that if I refused, I would be harassed until I complied, and that I could not leave until the police released me.”
  • After McDaniel’s apartment was searched, he was “forced” from his home and told he could not stay there.
  • He was taken back into police custody (and again was not asked), and while he was with the police, he suffered a seizure, which was diagnosed from an EMT. When he became conscious again, he was forcibly removed from the EMT’s care and placed in the Police Mobile Command Center. The EMT was allegedly not allowed to access him anymore.
  • While inside the Mobile Command Center, McDaniel requested to go to the hospital and an officer shoved him back into the seat and pinned him there. McDaniel says he was “disoriented, had severe head pain, had lost sensation in my extremities, could barely breathe, and was suffering from impaired vision.”
  • He was told, “We’ll have the EMT look at you if you’ll let us search your apartment.” McDaniel complied, but says he never received medical care. He “fell into an impaired state in which I was barely conscious and not in control over my words or actions.”
  • McDaniel was transported to the Detective Bureau, where he was “subjected to intense interrogation and insults” and was not free to leave.
  • The detective stated during the interrogation, “I hope they kill you” and joked that he was going to be sexually assaulted.

Are you feeling sorry for him yet? Me neither.

McDaniel also states that when he spoke to a reporter that day and was told that a body had been found, he collapsed “from the mental and emotional shock of the news, because, despite my own actions, at the time, my mental state was such that I was unaware of her death.”

The video of his interview with the reporter can be seen below, and it’s quite interesting (to say the least) to see his reaction when he realizes that Lauren’s body has been found. To me, it doesn’t seem as though he’s in shock that she is dead, but that he’s freaking out because her body has been found, and he knows that it’s all over for him.

You can read the letter McDaniel gave to the judge in its entirety HERE.

Read More:

McDaniel’s parting shot: I was wronged
McDaniel guilty plea almost didn’t happen

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