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Friday April 18th 2014

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Nodine stands trial today


Stephen Nodine is a true Pensacola phenomenon, a rising star that soared into the Pensacola on the back of a Northrop Grumman Air Tanker and today, two years later, stands trial for murder.

From 2008-2009, Nodine could do no wrong. He was billed as the politician that understood economic development, the Mobile County Commissioner who would one day by Alabama Lt. Governor. Nodine stood on the steps of the old Escambia County Courthouse with Congressman Jeff Miller and other area officials to declare Mobile and Northrop Grumman would win the $40 billion air tanker contract from the Air Force.

Everyone wanted to be like Nodine, wanted to hear his words of wisdom, and wanted Pensacola to be more like Mobile. The Mobile County Commissioner spoke to Rotary Clubs, Gulf Coast Economics Club and even appeared before the Escambia County Commission with Gene Valentino to support Valentino’s economic plan.

But there was a darker side to Nodine. In 2009, we began to hear rumors of the Mobile politician spending long weekends on Pensacola Beach, drinking and partying with someone else picking up the tab. As the air tanker bid process drug on and the recession impacted the Mobile economy, Nodine seemed less confident and missed the limelight.

On Dec. 23, 2009, Mobile County workers found what appeared to be marijuana in the county truck driver by Mobile County Commissioner Stephen Nodine. According to the affidavit filed with Mobile County District Court to obtain a search warrant, sheriff’s deputies smelled the odor of burned marijuana emanating from the cab

Their search turned up a blue nylon bag containing rolling papers, a lighter and a prescription bottle filled with what appeared to be more marijuana. The bottle bore Nodine’s name, according to the documents. Another prescription bottle, also bearing his name, was found that contained Lortab. Eventually Nodine would be charged for possession of a controlled substance and possession on marijuana, which would lead to his impeachment and resignation from the Mobile County Commission, but those charges weren’t the worse of his troubles.

Then May 9, Gulf Shores real estate agent Angel Downs, age 45, died in her driveway from a gunshot to the head. Investigators quickly learned that the woman, with whom Nodine had been seen frequently partying on Pensacola Beach, had spent the day with him.

Nodine would be charged with her murder, as well as stalking and an ethics charge accusing him of misuse of the county-issued pickup truck.

Two weeks before the murder Escambia County Commissioner Gene Valentino was shown on WEAR TV competing with Nodine at the Florabama’s Mullet Toss. Nodine only tossed his 80 feet—no word if any drug testing was done to see if anything enhanced or hurt Nodine’s athletic performance.

While Nodine was sitting in jail last May, Mobile radio DJ Shane McBryde posted an explosive article on the politician on examiner.com. McBryde writes about how Nodine came from nowhere to be Mobile County Commissioner:

The once golden boy of Mobile politics it seems flew too close to the sun and has now come crashing down to earth, where an angry citizenry is demanding recompense for what has been revealed to be years of reckless violations of the public trust.

What a long way to fall for the young man from Jupiter, Florida who blew into town well over a decade ago and, politically speaking, swept Mobile, Alabama off it’s feet. I got to know Steve around 1999 when he worked for Comcast Cable as an ad salesman and I was a radio talk show host on the local AM radio station.

Steve literally just showed up at the station one day offering his services as a political consultant willing to go on the air and give political observations on local and national topics. By way of credentials he said he had been an advance man for the late General Alexander Haig during his 1988 run for the presidency.

Nodine’s entrée into the radio station came from his befriending one of the stations disc jockey’s at the time named Chris Smith, who also hosted a show on the cable company’s public access channel as a character Smith created called “Uncle Henry.”

Read Steve Nodine and me

The Mobile Press Register reports that Nodine’s trial could last three weeks. The jury selection is today.

Read their latest articles on the case:

After months of drama, Stephen Nodine goes to trial Monday on murder, stalking charges

Prosecutor in Nodine case says medical expert found indications of staging at Angel Downs scene