MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) -- Stephen McDaniel's lawyers filed 17 new motions Thursday. McDaniel is accused of killing Mercer Law graduate Lauren Giddings, and dumping her dismembered torso in a trash can in June 2011.
The motions filed on Thursday are primarily focused on search and seizure and further details of the murder case surrounding McDaniel. McDaniel's lawyers requested that any evidence gathered during the search of McDaniel's 1997 black Geo Prism be excluded. McDaniel argued that the search warrant issued for his car was not issued by a "neutral and detached magistrate." According to the motion filed, that warrant was issued by Superior Court Judge Edgar W. Ennis, Jr. McDaniel was a clerk for Judge Ennis while he attended Mercer Law School. In order to receive class credit from the practicum, McDaniel was required to work a minimum of 126 hours in less than 4 months with Judge Ennis. The first four of nine search warrants were issued by Judge Ennis. Judge Ennis recused himself from consideration of this case, citing his former relationship with McDaniel. McDaniel's defense team argued, "If Judge Ennis was incapable of presiding over the trial of Mr. McDaniel because of the actual or perceived bias toward or against a former clerk, then it follows that Judge Ennis would not be the neutral and detached magistrate required by law during the issuance of search warrants one, two, three, and four."
In another motion, McDaniel's attorneys also requested that any evidence found in McDaniel's car, specifically four rain ponchos be excluded from court. Two ponchos were found inside the glove compartment and two inside the trunk. All of them were in original packaging. McDaniel's defense team stated that evidence is irrelevant.
Evidence of knives, swords, firearms, or other weapons seized from McDaniel's apartment not connected to Gidding's death have also been asked to be dropped. McDaniel's lawyers argued the evidence has no relevance, stating "The undisputed fact that none of these items tested positive for Giddings' DNA and that Giddings' injuries were not caused by any of these items is dispositive to rebut any notion that this evidence was, in any way, used in the murder and dismemberment of Lauren Giddings."
Macon police have surveillance footage from a Macon Walmart showing McDaniel on June 23, 2011 looking at what appears to be boating supplies and flashlights. According to the motion, McDaniel allegedly purchased a package of rope, a flash drive, and two rain ponchos. His attorneys said he was window shopping and his trip to Walmart "does not tend to prove or disprove any material fact at issue in this murder case." They added that there is no evidence that the types of things McDaniel appeared to be looking at or the items purchased are connected to Giddings' death.
In addition to the items purchased at Walmart, McDaniel's lawyers request that evidence of particular items bought at Kroger between April and June 2011 also be prohibited. Scissors, bleach, latex gloves, Scotch-Brite pads, and allergy pills have all been identified as items purchased using McDaniel's Kroger Plus Shopper's card . Attorneys Floyd Buford and Franklin Hogue said, "The items could have been purchased by anyone using Mr. McDaniel's Kroger Plus Shopper's Card account."
McDaniel's attorneys asked that additional time be given to file any motions in response to any new evidence presented after May 30.
Bibb County District Attorney David Cooke withdrew the death penalty notice for McDaniel last February after speaking with Giddings' family.
McDaniel's defense also requested that jurors be screened in panels of 12, while the others wait outside the courtroom.
A trial has been scheduled for September 2013.