Lauren Giddings was a member of St. Joseph Church while she attended Mercer Law School. She was murdered in the most gruesome way shortly after her graduation and a few days before she was to move to Atlanta about a year and half ago. Her parents are members of a Catholic parish in Maryland. The video and story below it from our local CBS affiliate says it all!
District Attorney David Cooke says he will not seek the death penalty against Lauren Giddings' accused killer, at the request of her family.
From WMAZ TV NEWS, MACON, GA
In a news conference this morning, Cooke announced that he had withdrawn his motion requesting the death penalty for Stephen McDaniel.
He said that decision will bring the case to trial sooner.
Cooke said the family still believes that McDaniel deserves to be prosecuted "to the full extent of the law," but that the move will bring justice sooner.
Today, Bill Giddings, the victim's father, called it a very tough decision."
He said his wife, Karen Giddings, started the family discussion on the topic, due to her personal opposition to the death penalty.
"She was always uncomfortable with the death penalty, not just since Lauren's death, but even before that," he said.
And that set off a discussion among family members, he said.
"Some of us felt the death penalty was appropriate, and some of us felt life in prison was sufficient."
In the end, he said, the drawn-out appeal process also factored into their decision.
"We asked did we want to drag that out? and we really didn't," he said. "We just think it's the best thing to do to move this case along."
One thing the family agrees on is that McDaniel will eventually be convicted: "We know he's guilty, and the evidence has proved that."
With the death penalty off the table, Cooke said, McDaniel is likely to come to trial within a year and a half. Two recent Bibb County death penalty cases came to trial six to seven years after the murder, he said.
The DA said he considered the family's request and also consulted other experts, but the final decision was his.
McDaniel, a former Mercer Law School student, is accused of killing his neighbor and classmate in June 2011.