Created: Mon, 16 Sep 2013 05:19:00 EST
Updated: Mon, 16 Sep 2013 09:30:09 EST
Stephen McDaniel sat in Bibb County Superior Court as pre-trial hearings began in his murder case. McDaniel is accused of murdering and dismembering Mercer grad student Laura Giddings in 2011.
One of the first witnesses on the stand was Bibb County Superior Judge Edgar Ennis who signed search warrants for McDaniel's apartment and car. Judge Ennis relieved himself from the case because the defendant once interned in his law office.
"I was concerned if I ruled in favor of Mr. McDaniel on some issues that there would be a segment of the community that would think that I was showing favoritism because of my previous association with him," said Ennis.
Also called to the stand was lead detective David Patterson of the Macon Police Department's Violent Crime Unit who only initially described McDaniel only as "a person of interest".
"I didn't have anything to indicate that he was a suspect," said Patterson.
Despite Patterson's claim, the defense argued that investigators always considered McDaniel a suspect. Lead Defense Attorney Franklin Hogue says McDaniel was the only person transported to the Detective's Bureau by way of police car for questioning.
Patterson says he was given a ride by detectives because McDaniel's car was blocked by patrol cars and the parking lot of his apartment complex was taped off as a crime scene. He said McDaniel did not object to receiving a ride and could have walked away at any point in time.
Hogue also says Patterson's offer of a trip to Krystals and then a quick stop to the Detective's Bureau was part of a plan to get McDaniel into police custody. Patterson says he offered because he was hungry and McDaniel looked tired because he spent most of the day in the mobile command.
Once at the bureau, McDaniel was questioned again and then read his Miranda Rights.