Friday, May 28, 2010

Murder and the Politician

by Diane Fanning

On Monday morning in Alabama, Mobile County Commissioner Stephen Nodine sat in his usual spot for the county commission meeting.  No one really cared what he thought about the road plans for U.S. 98 on the agenda.  They just wanted to know why he was walking free among them.

In mid-May, a grand jury delivered a bill of indictment alleging that Nodine should be removed from office on charges of willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetence, intemperance in the use of intoxicating liquors or narcotics, and moral turpitude.

They specified that he used one county vehicle for personal business, including visits to the Gulf Shores home of his long-time mistress Angel Downs (above) and driving under the influence, as well as losing another county pickup after he drove it to New Orleans Mardis Gras 2008.  The truck was found and about to be towed from the location where Nodine, in a drunken stupor, abandoned it.  The grand jury also cited him for purchasing non-official food and fuel with his county credit card.

On top of that, there were drug allegations: marijuana was found in his county vehicle in December 2009; he fraudulently purchased the painkiller Lortab from at least nine different pharmacies in four different states; and he was publicly intoxicated.  The last occurred during the first week in May when, wearing his county hat, he showed up belligerent at the Command Center for the BP oil spill.

Add to those incidents charges of stalking, harassment, verbal abuse, physical abuse and making threats against Angel Downs after she attempted to break off their relationship.  To complicate his sins even further, Nodine flashed his badge to law enforcement in an an attempt to avoid being arrested or charged with violation of a court-issued protective order.  It's no surprise that many of the commissioners' constituents saw him as a dishonest, abusive jerk.

Many of us have become numb to allegations of moral and ethical shortcomings by politicians, though.  It often seems as if many run for election not to serve, but to take advantage of their positions.  It becomes easy to simply turn away with boredom when another politician disappoints us.

The horror of May 9, however, could not be ignored.  That event stirred up the outrage of both Mobile and Baldwin County residents.  A shot rang out in The Ridge condominium complex, and Angel Downs fell down on her driveway, bleeding from her head.  Nodine's red county-issued pickup truck was seen leaving the area immediately afterwards. Helpless neighbors surrounded Angel and watched her die before paramedics arrived at the scene.

Nodine turned himself into authorities on the marijuana charges on May 14.  His wife filed for divorce, and he signed the papers on May 17.  Nodine's county truck was confiscated to search for evidence. Authorities found spent .40-caliber rounds and the presence of blood.

Still, fifteen days after the death of Angel Downs, Stephen Nodine sat in a county commission meeting as if nothing had happened.

While Nodine played the role of innocent and persecuted, the Grand Jury of Baldwin County met to consider the death of Angel Downs.  After seven hours of testimony, they handed down an indictment against the commissioner for murder.

At 7:15 Monday evening, in front of the Baldwin County Corrections Center, Stephen Nodine stepped out of his attorney's SUV, dressed in khaki shorts and a blue golf shirt.  He didn't say a word as a deputy approached through a crowd of reporters, slapped handcuffs on his wrists and escorted him inside.

The bail amount on a first degree murder charge in Alabama is an automatic $500,000.  If Nodine raises his bond, he will be on house arrest and forced to wear an ankle monitor.  It will be difficult for the family and the community to see Nodine walk out of jail, even with that new limiting accessory.

Nonetheless, there is comfort in knowing that Angel has not been forgotten, that someone has been arrested for her murder, and the journey on the road to justice has begun.

UPDATE: Stephen Nodine is still in jail unable to post bond, but he has resigned his position as a Mobile County Commissioner.


Delilah said...

It never ceases to amaze me how guys like Nodine and Drew Peterson, for example, can "allegedly" kill and just go on as if it was nothing.

They have no conscience and to be in positions of authority, as both were, is extremely disheartening.

This case of abuse and murder is one to watch. Hopefully some semblance of justice will prevail for the sake of the victim and her family.

Diane Fanning said...

I'll be watching this one, Delilah. I am glad he's still locked up instead of being out there acting like Angel's life was insignificant.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to be unkind, but you should probably consider using spell check before you pubish.

Anonymous said...

Ok that was terrible, publish. See, I should use spell check too.

Diane Fanning said...

Help me, Anonymous. I ran spell-check again. All that came up were proper nouns. I checked them to be sure and they were correct, too. What am I and spell-checker missing here?

Cherry said...

Thank you for covering this story. I wish the national media would pick it up.
Many people are wondering just who is this Steve Nodine? Seems he is a BS'r from West Palm Beach where he has a record of abuse.
You may track this case at TruTV, Webleuths and ScaredMonkeys. Just search Nodine. There's a lot more to this story. Some interesting comments being made and daily updates.

Diane Fanning said...

I was surprised by the small amount of media attention this story has generated.

FleaStiff said...

She was his LONG-TIME mistress?
Then she should have known about his drug use and his personality and should have known that the protective order is just to make it look good before she pulls the trigger.

Cherry said...

FleaStiff - If only pure, pristine souls could have justice for their murder we'd not even need a judicial system. "These bad things" do not equate to Angel deserving what happened to her.

She was a very nice woman who had tried to break it off with Nodine. She had suffered a long illness growing up awaiting a heart transplant. It was only in her late 30's that she began to live a real life. Sadly she was easily duped.

Don't judge her. She's gone and for no good reason.

Nodine has gotten away with so much. If just one person would have held him accountable this wouldn't have happened.

Diane - I'm trying to keep track of it all over at ScaredMonkeys Forum.
There's alot of funny business going on. I hope national media will eventually p/u on this.

Thanks for covering it!

Anonymous said...

Much has happened since this article. Thankfully the AG appointed Whetstone to retry. Nodine is still trying to make the murder about politics. If you care to check up on what's going on you can check out the FB Page Support Justice for Angel Downs.

Strange bedfellows:

Both article written by same Rob Holbert. Strange he doesn't remember his own work.

Exclusive interview with co-publisher Rob Holbert, former county commissioner Steve Nodine spoke from jail in Miami about why he was being prosecuted and what life has been like for the Hammer while he has been in the slammer.

In a Feb. 27, 1998 interview by Inquirer reporter Dick Polman, Nodine condemned apparent womanizing by then-President Bill Clinton.

Anonymous said...

Sorry link didn't work - 1st article:

2nd article:

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