New charges for Lilburn man in Macon law student slaying

MACON -- A Lilburn law student suspected of killing and dismembering a female classmate near Mercer University has been charged with seven counts of sexual exploitation of children after authorities allegedly found lewd images during a search of his apartment.

Stephen McDaniel, 25, is charged in the June murder of his neighbor, fellow Mercer law graduate Lauren Giddings, 27. Police found Giddings' torso wrapped in plastic in a garbage bin beside the complex she shared with McDaniel five days after she'd disappeared June 25.

Authorities in Bibb County believe the 2004 Parkview High School graduate's illegal behavior wasn't limited to the slaying.

Macon police and prosecutors have declined to elaborate on the new charges. But according to arrest warrants obtained by the Macon Telegraph, investigators found a computer flash drive in McDaniel's apartment with images of girls and boys engaged in sex acts with each other. Each count carries a potential prison sentence of between five and 20 years.

Investigators pointed to McDaniel as person of interest early in the murder probe. He was arrested on burglary charges involving two previous break-ins at the apartment complex the day the body was discovered.

McDaniel was previously charged with murder and two counts of burglary. Police have not revealed a motive or official cause of death.

Authorities said Giddings was last seen with friends during a night out. Her keys, cell phone and wallet were found inside her apartment, which showed no signs of disturbance. In an e-mail to her boyfriend, an Atlanta lawyer, Giddings expressed fear that someone had tried to break in her place the week before.

McDaniel remains at the Bibb County Jail without bond.