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Photo Gallery | 'Truly Evil': McDaniel pleads guilty to Giddings' murder

Stephen McDaniel pleaded guilty to Lauren Giddings' murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

District Attorney David Cooke said McDaniel admitted choking Giddings in her sleep and dumping parts of her body in a dumpster at the Mercer Law School.

FULL COVERAGE: The Lauren Giddings Case

Cooke said he fully expects that McDaniel will serve his entire life in prison.

McDaniel signed a statement detailing the grisly crime, according to a statement read in court this morning.

The former Mercer law student was accused of killing Giddings, his former classmate, in June 2011.

Her dismembered torso was found in a trash barrel outside the apartment complex where they both lived.

Lawyers in the case headed back to court this morning, one week before jury selection in his case is scheduled to begin.

At 9 a.m., a crowd of several dozen had gathered in the courtroom, including members of Giddings' family. Also in the courtroom, retired judge S. Philip Brown, who originally handled the case back in 2011, and Detective David Patterson, who first investigated the case for the Macon Police Department.

McDaniel entered the courtroom around 9:15, and lawyers in the case gathered before Judge Howard Simms.

After discussion of the agreement, District Attorney David Cooke began reading facts of the case including evidence against McDaniel. They included a hacksaw found in the apartment complex with Giddings' DNA on it. Packaging for the hacksaw was found in McDaniel's apartment.

He said McDaniel's Internet history showed his interest in the victim along with sadistically violent pornography.

Cooke said interviews with classmates show that McDaniel had a fantasy of committed a perfect murder .

He also referred to videos and pictures on McDaniel's camera taken the night and early morning of Giddings' disappearance -- June 25 and 26, 2011.

The district attorney said McDaniel has also agreed to a judgment against him in the Giddings family's civil lawsuit.

Giddings' parents read a statement describing the impact of the killing; "He tried to extinguish Lauren's light with his darkness. He did not come close."

McDaniel stared down at the table in front of him as Karen Giddings, the victim's mother, read another statement describing how the murder affected their family.

Then a friend of Giddings read her own statement, telling the killer, "You are the devil."

Then the lawyers in the case gathered again in front of Simms. McDaniel handed the judge a signed statement but declined comment in court.

McDaniel left the courtroom around 9:45, and Simms adjourned.

Simms said he told the killer that he considered the crime "truly evil."

In a news conference, Cooke said McDaniel's statement says he dumped the rest of Giddings' body in a dumpster at the Mercer Law School, across the street from the Barristers Hall apartment complex where they lived. He said the dumpster was picked up by a trash truck. He was not sure if it would ever be possible to recover the rest of her body.

Cooke said the plea agreement avoided a possible series of appeals "that would have placed justice in jeopardy."

He said McDaniel wrote that he did not "deserve forgiveness."


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