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Report: Georgia Man's Guilty Plea, Confession in Macon Murder Almost Didn't Happen

Stephen McDaniel pleaded guilty only after Lauren Giddings' family dropped wrongful death lawsuit.

Stephen McDaniel.
Stephen McDaniel.

Stephen McDaniel, the Gwinnett County man who pleaded guilty to murder in the dismemberment killing of his Macon neighbor, almost backed out of the plea.

The Macon Telegraph reported it took some last-minute negotiations with the victim’s family before McDaniel entered the plea and handed over a handwritten confession.

McDaniel, a native of Lilburn, pleaded guilty to strangling Lauren Giddings while she slept in her apartment on June 26, 2011, then dismembering her body. Giddings, from Laurel, Md., lived next door to McDaniel; both were Mercer University Law graduates.

He was sentenced to life in prison.

But the plea almost fell through, according to the Telegraph, which reported McDaniel said he would plead guilty and confess if the Giddings family dropped a wrongful death civil suit against him. The family agreed, as long as the confession was “fulsome, truthful and verifiable,” the newspaper said.

The family was given a draft of the confession and found it lacking. They made a counter-offer, but McDaniel’s attorney, Floyd Buford, didn’t respond until he called the family and its lawyers for a meeting in the hallway just before the plea hearing on Monday, April 21. Buford told the family the deal was off unless the civil suit was dropped.

The family relented. Kaitlyn Wheeler, Giddings’ sister, told the Telegraph McDaniel “took advantage of us in our most vulnerable state.”

The report was one of the revelations the newspaper has reported since the plea deal.

Read more on this story on Patch

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