Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Angel Downs: Justice an Unlikely Outcome

In Gulf Shores, Alabama, as the year anniversary passes in the death of Angel Downs, 45, found with a single gunshot wound in the driveway of her home on May 10, 2010, friends and family wonder if the case will be tried again after the person accused, former County Commissioner Steve Nodine stood trial in December and the outcome was a hung jury.

I have to give the defense team kudos for really working this case on behalf of their client. Regardless of what I know, they placed doubt during the trial and the jury was unable to convict him of her murder. Due to unrelated charges Nodine is behind bars in federal prison for 15 months.

A profile of an intimate partner offender and their ultimate actions is important to understand as it pertains to the mindset and pattern of conduct in these cases that end in murder. And in the majority of these cases, as in this one, the victim, Angel Downs, like so many others murdered in cold blood, has taken a back seat to justice.

The accused was a well liked and known public figure. He was supposedly "happily" married at the time the relationship began. And as we all know just because a person has an affair outside a marriage does not mean they kill a person. But a person who is jealous, controlling and manipulative with a teeter totter mentality if pushed and they are rejected tend to go into reaction mode. Either by working at gaining the affections back of the individual or when that does not work, the rage builds and they go into full destruction mode. Rarely do intimate partner offenders ever just walk away and move on with their lives.

Nodine Criminal History:
1979- Arrested for larceny from yard.
1985- Arrested for exposure of sexual organs.
1987- Breaks into a former girlfriend’s home and attacks her when she returns.
1988-Judgement for eviction.
1992- Strikes and kills a woman with a vehicle.
1997- Arrested for disorderly conduct and criminal mischief.
2010- Charged with possession of illegal drugs. Charged with shooting murder of Angel Downs. Grand Jury impeachment. Pleads guilty to federal gun charge.

You can place Nodine in his county owned pickup truck in her neighborhood as witnesses say they saw his truck, but that is it. No one saw him pull the trigger. And when he officially learns he is wanted for questioning in her murder he displays a common pattern of conduct by not calling to check and see what happened to Angel Downs, likely because he in my opinion, already had first hand knowledge. So it was easy for the defense to cast doubt with jurors.

In these cases psychopaths(a.k.a. the offenders) present themselves initially as intensely interested in a woman. And according to Sandra Brown, M.A., author of "Women Who Love Psychopaths," they have connected the dots to design the best approach to get her. Within intimate partner violence and homicide we only see the aftermath of the offender's behavior or action; the outcome results in a crime or death, but no one ever really explains and identifies a violent offender within a relationship. Until now. In my opinion the work of Sandra Brown, M.A. and the Institute is the piece of the missing puzzle as it directly relates to psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists.

"Psychopaths are highly pleasure motivated and excesssively seek out what they enjoy. This includes lots of high-status posessions, the need to be constantly entertained and distracted, hyper-sexual, wanting to be dominant with their social circles, and by all means requiring lots of power."

Since the trial there has been a changing of the elected guard. The former District Attorney Judy Newcomb whom tried the case is no longer in office. The newly elected official Hallie Dixon has likely weighed the County's options and the all mighty dollar cold be a factor in her decision to re-try the case. Even with a hearing next week regarding forensic evidence it does not mean there will be a trial.

I had said back in January on my show "Time's Up" that the likely hood of the elected official re-trying this case is slim to none. The office would hang the victory on the fact that on unrelated charges Nodine received 15 months in prison.

Where as in all of these case is the justice for the victims of intimate partner violence? Sadly, Angel Downs is receiving the same treatment by the system as when she was alive. The silence is indeed deafening!

Susan Murphy Milano is with the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education. She is an expert on intimate partner violence and homicide crimes. For more information visit She is also in partnership with Pamela Chapman and iAscend Programs.

Susan is the author of "Time's Up A Guide on How to Leave and Survive Abusive and Stalking Relationships," available for purchase at the Institute, and wherever books are sold. Susan is the host of The Susan Murphy Milano Show, "Time's Up!" on Here Women Talk and is a regular contributor to the nationally syndicated The Roth Show with Dr Laurie Roth. Susan is a survivor- the daughter of a police officer family intimate partner homicide by her father who murdered her mother before committing suicide.

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