On Wednesday, the murder of former Mobile County Commissioner and 2009 Mullet Toss champion Steve Nodine resumed. Jurors heard about a 2009 incident when a drunk Nodine caused a scene at the home of the murder victim, Angel Downs. They also saw video and photos from the crime scene – which the judge initially barred the press from seeing, but later relented.
The day began with the cross-examination of Downs’ sister Susan Bloodworth, who testified the day before that she had received a text message from Downs less than an hour before her murder.
On Wednesday, she told the jury that her sister was trying to move on with her life after a six-year affair with Nodine, whom Angel Downs referred to as “crazy,” according to Bloodworth.
On cross examination, Bloodworth admitted that she did not know that Downs had spent the day she died, as well as the previous two days, with Nodine. Nodine’s attorney tried to draw a parallel between Downs’ death in May(which was from a gunshot to the head) and an apparent suicide attempt in 2006.
Bloodworth testified that Downs called her on Oct. 31, 2006, to tell her she was sorry and to say goodbye. Bloodworth, who was living in Georgia, was concerned enough to call 911 in Baldwin County from her home in Georgia. Paramedics took Downs to the hospital, where doctors discovered she had taken Ambien and alcohol.
The defense has contended that Downs shot herself on May 9, 2010 and the attorney suggested that 2006 suicide incident was similar to May 9. Bloodworth testified that the situations were very different. In 2006 Angel Downs seemed depressed and distraught during their phone conversation, Bloodworth testified, Downs seemed concerned for her safety in May.
Nodine’s attorney also challenged Bloodworth on her earlier testimony that her sister was moving on beyond Nodine. with whom Downs had had a 6-year affair. Bloodworth admitted she disapproved of the affair and that Downs did not tell her everything about her relationship with Nodine. She was unaware that Downs had spent the day of her death with Nodine; that Nodine and his teenage son had spent the night the previous Friday at Downs’ Gulf Shores condo; or that Nodine and Downs had been together the previous week.
After the lunch break, a former neighbor of Angel Downs, testified on that on April 1, 2009 (a year before the murder), that she saw a drunken Steve Nodine yelling and beating on the door of Angel Downs around 8:15 p.m.
Lauren Elkins, who now lives in Key West, Fla., testified that in 2009, she and Downs lived side-by-side townhomes in Fairhope. Elkins told jurors that Nodine shouted obscenities and demanded that Downs come outside and talk to him. When Nodine came to Elkins’ door after Downs refused to let him in, Elkins testified, “He smelled of alcohol. He was kind of using the side of my building to prop himself up.”
Elkins said she called Downs at 8:33 p.m. Downs, Elkins testified, said that Nodine was just drunk and asked her not to call the police.
The jurors also saw graphic photos from the crime scene. One photo showed Downs’ hair fanned out from her head, except for some strands that flowed over her nose and across her upper lip.
According to the Mobile Press Register, several witnesses testified that the appearances struck them as odd. Prosecutors contend that it is evidence that Nodine partially staged the scene before speeding off in his red truck.
Defense attorney Dennis Knizley maintains that Nodine would not have had enough time to stage the area since several of Downs’ neighbors have reported seeing the truck leaving the subdivision within a minute or so of hearing the gunshot.
The jurors also saw the murder weapon, her Kel-Tec 9 mm pistol, the bloody clothes that Downs was wearing, ammunition taken from her gun and shell casing that Gulf Shores police officers found near a bush 10 to 15 feet to the right of her head.