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Slain Mercer Law Grad Was a Friend to Many, Including the Classmate Now Charged with Her Murder

Posted Aug 8, 2011 6:44 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Remembered at a funeral mass in Laurel, Md., attended by hundreds of mourners on Saturday evening, slain Mercer University law graduate Lauren Giddings was recalled again and again for the joy she brought to others' lives. Multiple people said she had been their best friend.

The 27-year-old Giddings "was the kind of person who didn't need to look for a good time, she made a good time in whatever she did. She truly enjoyed everything she did and she made sure everyone else did the same," said Garon Muller, a family friend, reports the Associated Press.

For all three years of law school, she lived next door to a shy, shaggy-haired classmate, Stephen McDaniel, who is now 25 and a fellow Mercer law graduate. As with everyone else she knew, Giddings was kind and friendly to him, chatting with McDaniel, who stayed alone at home much of the time, when she ran across him on the exterior apartment building stairway they shared, according to a lengthy Washington Post article.

The two also worked together during their final year of law school, when Giddings served as president of the local chapter of the Federalist Society and McDaniel was its vice president. Giddings stayed on her student apartment in Macon, Ga., after she graduated, to study for the state bar exam.

After her dismembered torso was found last month, McDaniel was charged both with Giddings' murder and with stealing condoms in burglaries from other law student apartments in the same building in recent years. Allegedly, a master key to the apartment building was found in his home as well as packaging for a hacksaw.

He insists he is innocent. His lawyer says McDaniel is very upset about Giddings' death and has asked for a competency hearing.

“She would be friends with anyone,” one of her best friends, Lori Supsic, 27, told the Post.

Giddings, she said, had uncommon empathy for the socially alienated and maladroit. “People who maybe others made fun of in school, Lauren would be friends with them,” Supsic said. “And not necessarily because she felt sorry for them, but because she saw the good in every person.”

Additional coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Classmate of Slain Mercer Law Grad Faces Felony Murder Charge, But Questions Still Remain"

Macon Telegraph: "A closer look at Stephen McDaniel, the man accused in Lauren Giddings' killing"

Macon Telegraph: "McDaniel's mom: My son was framed in Lauren Giddings murder"

Updated at 7:29 a.m. to link to additional Macon Telegraph article.

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