Mercer grad slaying suspect pleads not guilty of exploitation

MACON -- A man charged with murder in the death of a Mercer University law school graduate has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts of sexual exploitation of children.

It was reported that 26-year-old Stephen McDaniel of Lilburn entered the plea Monday morning in a Bibb County courtroom.

McDaniel also faces a murder charge in the death of Lauren Giddings, a recent graduate of Mercer University's law school, who was last seen after a night out with friends June 25. Five days later, police discovered her torso wrapped in plastic in a garbage bin beside her apartment building.

He was charged with sexual exploitation of children after authorities said they found illegal images in his apartment during the investigation into Giddings' death.