A Macon police detective describedhow murder suspect Stephen McDaniel looked after officers found the torso of his alleged victim at their apartment complex: "He was staring off into space like a zombie."
The testimony came as a Bibb County judge heardtestimony Monday on pre-trial motions filed by McDaniel's defense.
McDaniel is accused of murdering Mercer Law classmate Lauren Giddings in June 2011 and dumping her dismembered body.
Superior Court Judge S. Phillip Brown is hearing the case. A hearing of the motions is expected to last several days. Among the 51 motions, the defense to asking the judge to throw out interviews with McDaniel and items found during several searches of his apartment and car.
McDaniel is in the courtroom. Also present: Giddings' cousin, Kathy Mann, and the victim's boyfriend, David Vandiver.
As the hearing began, prosecutors sought to defend search warrants for McDaniel's apartment. The defense contends that some searches were illegal.
Judge called to testify
Prosecutors called as a witness Superior Court Judge Edgar Ennis and questioned him about the four warrants he signed.
The defense maintains that Ennis should not have signed the warrants because McDaniel interned in his office for one semester.
At the time he signed the warrants, Ennis said, "the name rang a bell," but he did not recall McDaniel's internship.
Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Nancy Scott Malcor,Ennis said he recused himself from the case "after a period of reflection" after he realized his connection to McDaniel.
The judge said he agreed to sign the warrants, but did not think he should be the trial judge in the case.
Ennis defended the substance of the search warrants. He said he considered themthe same way he considered any other search warrant. He said the warrants were far more detailed than any other search warrant he had seen.
Detective describes search, interview
Next, Macon police detective David Patterson took the stand around 10:30 a.m. He described the search at Giddings' apartment on June 30, 2011.
It started as a search for the law student, who'd been missing for several days.
Officers eventually found Giddings' torso in a trash barrel next to the apartment complex.
Patterson testified that that happened after he interviewed McDaniel outside the Barrington Hall apartments that morning.
He said he was following McDaniel back to his apartment, but smelled something coming from the trashcan. Officers found the torso inside.
To keep that information from spreading, he said, officers took witnesses to the detective bureau to give written statements.
Patterson said he left McDaniel alone for more than an hour, with the door open, in an interview room at the bureau while detectives spoke to other witnesses.
McDaniel told officers that he had some valuable weapons in his apartment and didn't want it searched unless he was present.
Patterson said he did not threaten or coerce McDaniel into agreeing to the search. He said he asked McDaniel to lift his shirt, to see if he had any cuts or marks; McDaniel did that without hesitation, he said.
He said he found a large cooler, a samurai sword, an assault rifle and several flash drives in McDaniel's apartment.
The search lasted about 10 to 15 minutes and when it was completed, he said, McDaniel walked away toward the Mercer law library.
Later, after someone told him that investigators found the torso, Patterson said, "He was staring off into space like a zombie."
The hearing broke for lunch around 12:30 p.m.
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