MACON, Ga. — A week before his trial was set to begin, the man accused of killing and dismembering a law school classmate in Macon pleaded guilty Monday to malice murder.
Stephen McDaniel, 28, was sentenced to life in prison after agreeing with prosecutors to the guilty plea in the June 2011 slaying of 27-year-old Lauren Giddings of Laurel, Md., according to local media reports. Giddings had just graduated from Mercer University Law School and lived next door to her classmate, McDaniel.
Though McDaniel’s sentence carries the possibility of parole, Bibb County District Attorney David Cooke said he expects McDaniel will spend the rest of his life in jail.
The courtroom was full of Giddings’ family and friends, as well as retired Judge S. Phillip Brown, who had presided over much of the case. Her parents read a statement: “He tried to extinguish Lauren’s light with his darkness. He did not come close.”
McDaniel wrote in a statement that he did not deserve to be forgiven, Cooke said at a news conference after the hearing.
As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to dismiss sexual exploitation of children and burglary charges against McDaniel. McDaniel also agreed to a judgment against him in a lawsuit brought by Giddings’ family, Cooke said.
Giddings’ torso was found in a trash bin outside their apartment complex, but the rest of her remains had never been found.
McDaniel admitted choking Giddings to death as she slept and dumping the rest of her body in a trash bin at Mercer University law school, across the street from their apartment building, Cooke said. That bin was picked up by a garbage truck, and it was uncertain whether her remains can ever be recovered, he said.