Monday, November 22, 2010

Killing with a Borrowed Knife: Stephen Nodine

By Susan Murphy Milano

The murder trial for Angel Downs begins right after the Thanksgiving holiday.

On May 9, 2010, 45 yr. old realtor, Angel Downs, was found shot in the head in her front yard in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Neighbors heard shots fired and saw former (very married) boyfriend and elected Mobile County Commissioner, Steve Nodine, leaving the scene in his county provided red pickup truck.

This guy is facing more federal charges than buckets on a bozo show. Sadly, in between federal gun charges, drugs, corruption, bribery, and whatever else I missed, the most important is the cold blooded and pre-meditated murder, in my opinion, of Angel Downs, whom he stalked, threatened, and, according to eye witnesses, shot.

Combined, these are heavy criminal acts of a person elected into office. It was a surprise that this "Alabama dickless wonder" had been granted bail! With a GPS bracelet, (what a joke) Stephan Nodine has been on "house arrest." He lives in an historic neighborhood, allegedly having parties with open bars, going to salons, courting women online (on sites such as , getting possible paramours to drop by and meet him at church, all while his parole officer (Clay Marsal) refuses to cite him for violations. Then, we have those holding the reins of local media suddenly abstain from telling the public or doing an informative investigation about Stephen Nodine's blatant disregard for the law.

It was no surprise that when our own crime advocate and writer, Cherry Simpson, learned of this dangerous repeat offender's various freedoms in a community where she lives with her family, she was outraged. First, to think that a murderer, (sorry, in my opinion!) is walking into the same grocery store, salon, pharmacy, bank or gas station, where other women could fall prey, as he is trying to pick them up in the fruit section of a grocery store or when they are having a manicure, I would not feel very safe. Neither did Cherry Simpson, especially when the county was not properly monitoring the activities of "lady killer Stephen Nodine."

Cherry created a "Support Justice for Angel Downs" page, speaks to the woman's family and friends in order to have more media attention placed on the crime in hopes of removing the headline of "mistress" associated with a murder victim, and to ensure justice is properly served given the political climate and Nodine's unique ability in the art of deception.

Cherry Simpson wrote on "Time's Up!," spoke out, and was on a radio show or two regarding the murder. In July a radio show was scheduled, with members of the Downs family and Cherry Simpson, to discuss Angel and give her a voice because she had been silenced by a man who made a living at "killing with a borrowed knife." The family was threatened not to appear on the radio show, but the show went on and we went ahead with the broadcast, without the scheduled guests.

To "kill with a borrowed knife” means borrowing other people's power to help you eliminate a threat. When you lack power or don’t want to reveal yourself, you will borrow a "knife" (from an outside force) to eliminate a threat. By doing this, you are using other people's power for your own gain.

Cherry Simpson began as advocate/activist for victims of crime after her daughter was handcuffed, raped and severely beaten in 2006 by her former son-in-law. In 2008, when her former son-in-law was scheduled for early release from State prison in Illinois, she contacted me. I scheduled a meeting with the Will County State's Attorney and implemented various strategies, which included the media, ensuring her daughter's life remained safe without the threat of continued violence, or perhaps death.

Once her daughter's case closed and the person responsible sentenced by a judge, Cherry Simpson embarked on a road to assist others, including families of missing persons and cold cases. She tasted the victory of justice and Cherry Simpson wanted the same for other parents whose cries for help fell on deaf ears, often marked by a headstone in a grave yard. In December of 2009, just weeks after she became a writer here on "Time's Up!," her niece, Lacey Gaines, was brutally murdered. She continues to work on Lacey's case, keeping it in the public eye, until the person responsible is arrested and brought to justice.

Now, in my opinion, Cherry Simpson is being threatened, harassed and victimized by the defense attorneys representing Stephen Nodine in the upcoming December trial for the murder of Angel Downs.

Cherry and Larry Simpson were served a subpoena by Nodine's defense team demanding they appear at 8:30 a.m. on December 3, 2010 in Baldwin County, Alabama. This translates into a victims advocate publicly paying for blog writing activities and for trying to keep Nodine under a larger public spotlight. Why? Because they are angry for bringing national attention a case which they would like to stay quiet.

This is certainly a lot more attention given by authorities than what Angel Downs received while she was alive.

Angel tried to have police reports written and secure an order of protection from the courts; she was tired of the staking and threatening texts. Angel Downs spoke with high ranking officers for help and no one listened. Why? People with influence, power, and money almost always get away with, yes, even murder, until they are finally caught.

At first I thought ordering Cherry Simpson and her husband to appear in court for the defense could be a good thing for the murder case, but it's not for Cherry and her family. They must jump through hoops in their professional lives to show up and testify. For Angel Downs, this is a victory. This blog is responsible for the mainstream media focusing on the case. It also in my expert opinion outed the criminal activity of a serial offender, Stephen Nodine.

I would recogonize and thank others who worked along side Cherry Simpson, but they would also be served with a subpoena by the defense team representing Nodine.

A personal message to Mr. Nodine, from me, enjoy your Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays it will be your last until you are found guilty and sent to prison.

(Susan Murphy Milano is with the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education. For more information visit She 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 and is a regular contributor to the nationally syndicated The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth on


  1. Maybe we should all write a blog about this case....would they subpoena everyone?

    I am sorry Cherry and her husband are being put through this but I think in the end putting on the stand someone of Cherry's ethical background, determination and powerful victim's advocacy history .... Nodine's camp will be very sorry they did this!

    And, hey Nodine's camp there is always ways to play the who is out powering who game .... everyone can be out powered, keep that in mind.

    Maureen Reintjes
    Peace4 the Missing

    National Missing and Unidentified Persons System ( Victims Advocate Team Kansas

  2. I'm at a loss to come up with a legitimate motive for the defense to subpoena Cherry and her husband to testify; and share Susan's opinion that this may be more of a harassment technique.

    I've known Cherry for several years through my radio shows. She's a strong and tireless victim's rights advocate. She may be inconvenienced by the defense methods, but if intimidation or retribution is their goal, I think they're going to be disappointed.

  3. The question remains, why hasn't national media picked up on this story? My opinion is they, too, have been pressured NOT to report. This story has all the ingredients sought after by popular news shows on FOX or CNN/HLN.

    It seems there is only the internet left to do the job of "investigative journalists." Mainstream media has become nothing more than news for entertainment.

    I've known Cherry Simpson for several years, and she has my support and the support of many for the work she has done in the name of justice for total strangers who need help.

    All Cherry Simpson wants is Justice for Angel Downs, a victim of stalking, abuse and ultimately murder. Don't underestimate the Nana from Bama!

  4. Cherry is one of the most amazing angels on earth i have ever met. We crossed paths durring my struggle to win custody of my children from their abusive father. I read so many parallels in Angel Down's story to my own that body shook. I lost my children was refused monies for my atty then forced to trial without an atty all while my children are being abused( courts new about it..he admitted it)I was stalked threatned, harassed via text and e-mail and phone. House broken into Car vandalized etc.
    I reached out to anyone and everyone for help and although all were abhored to hear what was happening and wanted to help ( Susan Murphy-Milano had me as a gust speaker on her blog talk show "Killing me in the courtroom"); There was no fighting deep pockets and corrupt politics and ignorance on epic scale in Lancaster Ohio.

    Cherry was such an inspiration and bright star in a very dark place for me..she still is. although the threats and harrassment and abuse still continue and nothing being done, because of Cherry and Susan I am much stronger to handle it.
    I fear it will be either my or my childrens deaths that will finally attract attention like Angel's did but as long as I am alive I will speak for every victim and support Cherry and all those like her that are trily ass kicking angels here on earth!

    Katie Park

  5. Cherry Simpson is an extraordinary woman!! She puts her name, reputation, and heart out on the line for victims. How many individuals can you say honestly will do this?! The ONLY reason that Cherry is being called in this case is b/c she used her voice to say the TRUTH! Cherry used her voice to help everyone!! All Cherry has wanted is to put this criminal where he his cage and then in hell for ALL eternity!! If more people were like Cherry Simpson this world would be a MUCH better place to live!! Cherry Simpson is a TRUE angel and advocate for those of us who have been victimized through anything and everything. Those of you who may attack or try attacking Cherry Simpson's character, lack genuine intelligence, heart, personality, integrity, and humanity!!! Thank you to Cherry Simpson for doing ALL that you do! Never let anyone EVER attack your character as you are an angel sent by God to give a voice to those who's voices have been silenced! God bless you Cherry Simpson and keep up your kind work for protecting, standing up for, and speaking out for victims EVERY WHERE!

  6. You know when you get that feeling about someone, and your gut kicks in, you trust them or you dont.
    WELL with Larry and Cherry my gut kicked in immediately and told me these are good quality people. The kind you can trust.
    With their history of tragedy and despair in their family they have lept forward to try and help others. Subpoena's are great things if used right. In this case its nothing more than a ploy for a venue change or puffry by the defence.
    I too have covered the DOWNS story like many others have and giving stories like that a voice is much stronger than any subpoena

  7. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Cherry Simpson. She is a staunch advocate for victims and for justice being served in their names. If anyone in my family were to be victimized (God forbid), I would want Cherry assisting my family. She does not give up simply because those who want the truth to stay hidden make her journey more difficult. She just keeps going. We need more Cherry's....and a lot less pits!

  8. Susan,
    Where do you get your facts from? It seems you and Cherry Simpson are both scared from your past and are oblivious to searching and seaking the truth. How can you speak of this siutation without knowing any evidence at all. No one on your blog knows the truth or any facts of this case whatsoever. I live in Mobile and have followed this from day one and admit a knee jerk reaction would be to hang him from the highest tree but I reserved my judgement and continue to do so. I must tell you there is much more that you dont know. And the media is just now findng that out thus the reason for their "pulling the reigns" as for national media please you give this man way too much credit. They could care less about him or politics in Mobile AL. What I have learned about the media is they all want/need a story that sells. Angel Downs committing suicide would not garner as much attention as a politico who was a power monger who wouldnt let anyone stand in his way. Angel attempted suicide in 2006 but that is barely talked about. If you truly are an advocate then search the truth before you fire from the hip

  9. This is amazing to me! Nodine's defense team gets away with serving a subpoena to Cherry, and there's no record of the prosecution objecting to this? If the judge overruled the objection, we might want to ask whether the defense team and the judge's family are members of the same country club. Law and sausage! SHEEESH!

    You just don't force someone of Cherry's character and dedication to appear in court simply because they want justice where it is being blocked at nearly every step. Before you summon Cherry and her husband to defend their actions against badgering by that defense team, you really ought to be summoning a few others to defend their moral principles first. Start with the legal correspondents, the news-management team (news departments are supposed to be insulted by the term "news management" because it's intended that way), and the other walking filth in the Mobile County political arena.

  10. Larry and Cherry Simpson have been my dear friends for 25 years. We met when I was in graduate school and they were on the faculty. I love them and their family. They are the most genuine, honest, caring, and trustworthy people I know. Their integrity is unbreakable. While I don't know all of the details of Angel Downs' case, I know that the Simpsons are very thorough in their research, and I trust their judgement. Cherry has become a profound spokesperson for victims of violence, sadly because of her own family's experience. I would support her in any endeavor she chooses. I trust her implicitly, and no one should doubt her resolve, or question her sincerity.

  11. Do you believe everything you read and see in the media to be the honest truth? If so, I pity you. To all of those that have viciously attacked Steve Nodine cling to their cloak of christianity, and hide behind their interpretation of the law and forget one thing--You will be judged just has harshly as you judge others.
    I am sure you all have done some good at some point- but not in this case.
    If I were a friend of Steven Nodine (and I am a friend in his "camp") and revealed my identity-Would I be harrassed and stalked, by domestic VIOLENCE "advocates"? Would I be attacked on the internet and dismissed for the information I can PROVE just because it may show the deceased in the light that is less than angelic? There is information on your and CHERRY SIMPSON'S blogs/websites that are absolute untruths. Print this out and pass it around for all I care- Cherry simpson is being called to testify because of her "actions", and I will leave it at that (you know why Susan).
    How can either of you claim to have integrity when you viciously lie, crucify a man of pre-meditated murder and other vile acts, and then ignorantly quip "in my opinion" after you continue to defame him ?? Is it the "duty or right" of a self-proclaimed "victims advocate" to inject themselves into a high profile case in which their personal tragedies cloud and distort the truth? Is it true that neither one of you have had the priviledge of reading and analyzing the entire discovery for this case?
    Are you aware of any erratic, manipulative, and violent actions commited by Ms. Downs? Are there any videotapes, emails, and texts proving these instances?

    Was Ms. Downs addicted to any medications, alcohol and married men? Has she ever lied to her family, friends or lovers?

    Is it true that a woman that has sexual relations with a married man is a mistress?

    Is it illegal to set-up social network sites accounts in someone elses name? and Can the site owners track the actual source of the accounts?

    As far as the grand jury indictment--they can indict anyone for anything. That may just be to protect an incompetent and trigger happy D.A. and when the evidence is proven to not be in their favor they can claim the grand jury "did it"-in my opinion.

    Is he having parties with open bars--That is an outright lie and any "source" is a LIAR. Whatever proof you have we would LOVE to see it.

    You accuse he is courting women online and scheduling meet-ups-- the online crap is "in my opinion" manufactured by.....
    and meeting up?? Are you serious? That is just to ignorant to really respond to and any woman that has proclaimed anything should be standing inline to testify and will be humiliated for her lies.

    You state his parole officers not citing him--first of all they are probation officers and the federal government fully understands their duties and court ordered responsibilities and all trips were "in my opinion" APPROVED.

    The allegations of keeping the details of the case "quiet"--the last I checked there is a thing called trial and divulging all information to the public before the trial is well- ignorant. Why would either side tell the public the all details of a case? anything that has been released is nothing even close to the truth-and yes that will be proven in the court of law where it belongs.

    The multiple charges in the state case is proof a desperate D.A. is throwing all she can in hopes something sticks because she knows the evidence proves without doubt this tragedy is a suicide.

    As far as people with power,influence and money using any source they can to further their careers or a certain cause and ultimately causing severe harm and devastation to innocent people--REMINDS ME OF YOU.(In my opinion)

  12. Susan,

    I have the utmost admiration for those who are truly advocates for victims of violent crimes, and who do so in the interest of justice. And to do so at the risk of harm to themselves and their families is even more admirable. However, justice is blind—it is to be divided equally between the victim and the accused—equal justice under the law. This is how our justice system was originally designed to operate, and in most cases it operates successfully. It also operates under the notion that an accused is innocent until proven guilty.

    I have read your post and all the comments in response thereto, and I must say that I am appalled. It appears that you, as well as your supporters, have deemed Mr. Nodine guilty and have all but condemned him based on hearsay and conjecture, without even so much as a modicum of knowledge regarding the facts of the case. You have all but dared him and his counsel to prove himself innocent.

    While you are certainly entitled to your “opinion,” and you are entitled to post it on the internet or anywhere else you choose, when it borders on slander and is based on nothing more than manufactured “facts,” this is not advocating on behalf of a victim. It is nothing more than lashing out at a person or persons who have harmed YOU (or Ms. Simpson, or loved ones of either of you) and is certainly not in the interest of TRUE justice. Sometimes victims are made so by their OWN demons, not those demons that you or the media choose to create.

    I’m sure you believe you are making the world a better place by participating in this “advocacy,” but your methods are, to say the least, dubious. My heart goes out to Ms. Downs’ family, as I know they will feel the pain of her loss forever. However, you and the rest of the media playing judge, jury, and executioner before hearing all the facts is not only a miscarriage of justice for her, it is in and of itself a crime.

  13. Cherry:
    This is to you, remain strong and vigilant, you are doing the right thing, sometimes the right thing is the hardest to do. One of the reasons why domestic violence is so prevalent is because no one wants to step up and stop it or say something. I say, Keep Talking, Keep Investigating, Keep Calling the police, all of the naysayers who think you’re wrong, are wrong themselves; sometimes victims need a voice, they might need encouragement and assistance. Keep doing exactly what it is you’re doing…and understand that whether Good or Bad, careless and ignorant people will talk…

    I met Cherry Simpson shortly after reading about the horrific domestic abuse that her daughter Regan had suffered at the hands of her ex-husband. I spoke with both Regan and Cherry on that day. Cherry’s fight at that point was just beginning. What evolved over time was a person who was a true, tireless and strong advocate not only for her daughter but for voiceless women who had suffered violence and more so for the ones whose very lives were taken. Her work was quiet and never ending, she has a resource list that is better and longer than all of the domestic violence coalitions put together and then some. She exemplifies what it is to be a mother and one who has to fight to keep her daughter and grandchildren safe and free from harm. Her voice has the warmth that victims need. Cherry goes above and beyond as a victim’s advocate and in this day and time society needs just that. Someone, though afraid, will turn over every rock, call all involved countless times and work to make sure that the offender who is guilty is properly placed on his cot, in his 5 x 8 home, where he belongs. If everyone understood what Cherry understands offenders would not get away with anything; she knows that “violence domestic or otherwise, is not only society’s problem it’s yours. Don’t wait for it to come knocking at your door step, get involved now!”

    I’ve realized the true “Gift of God” you are to me and countless others. Your investigative work mirrors the efforts of more than 20 law enforcement officers, detectives and such. Your inspiration comes from God, I’d like to ask you to keep going and when you’re done come and work with me at the National Registry of Domestic Violence Offenders!...

    Myra Spearman
    National Registry of Domestic Violence Offenders

  14. Cherry Simpson has broken the law and it will be shown in court. Susan its refreshing to see you are an "advocate" of illegal activities and slander. Why dont you come to the trial since you are so involved. I'm sure your willingness to falsify your identity would be of interest to all involved. Enough is Enough! None of you have any facts but have for some reason an agenda to make this into something it is not. The Hinckley family which is Angel's family their last name isnt Downs were threatned??? Sadly once the truth comes out most of you wont acknowledge it even when it slaps you in the face. You will tout politics or whatever the reason for him being found not guilty not the evidence or lack there of for that matter. Angel Downs was a sick disturbed person who had an addiction to men. Ask her former husband who so famously called Nodine a player. Does he forget he and Angel cheated on her first husband?? Hmmm do your research before you make false accusations

  15. Cherry does something I can easily say approx 99% of us do not do ... she stands up for what is right. Regardless of how unpopular the stance may be, despite how uncomfortable it might be to do so ... if that's not THE definition of a hero for justice then I don't know what is ...

    In every single issue that I have personally engages with Cherry regarding ... she has always been spot on ... (I have not always been, but she has) I don't easily trust others ... but I trust Cherry and hee judgement 110%.

    And I am far from the only one ... with very good reason.

    To all those who doubt her ... prepare to be proven wrong.

    Sara Huizenga
    Peace4 the Missing

  16. That totally refutes the "eyewitnesses" testimony of hearing a shot and then seeing him drive away. Judy Newcomb has dug herself a hole she can't get out of. Even the coroner report shows it wasnt homicide. When is everyone going to face facts that Angel Downs killed herself??

  17. Anonymous 3:32 PM - You're delusional! READ REPORT it speaks for itself.

  18. The report you are speaking of is of Dr. Downs a medical examiner who came on the scene last month. He did not view the body (only photos) and if you read the report he concurs with the coroner. Well if he concurs then it wasnt homicide. Ask yourself this question. Why did Judy Newcomb hire this "medical expert" now? Why has the state medical examiner been sufficient on all other cases of his tenure including the ones Judy prosecuted until this? Furthermore how in the world could this man do all the report insinuates in the amount of time that the witnesses say they saw his truck leave?? You are the delusional one! Sadly you probably always will be even though the evidence and true facts show this was not homicide in any way shape or form.

  19. The report is by a well respected ME with many years experience (vs just a few years of ME who did autopsy- DA said the Expert is to add to the orig report). Look at the report and see for yourself he not only looked at photos, but videos and many other reports and evidence.

    As far as the media coverage the Herman Thomas "Spanking Judge" case got much more coverage by the media. He was a public official who had to overcome race as well and he able to get a fair trial.

    This seems to be a move by the defense so they can take the case to appeal. If the defense doesn't want media coverage why do we keep seeing and hearing from the defense?

    If the go to appeal just show all the news clips with Nodine and his atty's they've gotten the majority of the airtime creating their own problem.

    I expect this from defense attys to do that but I am disappointed in the media going along with it. Lazy reporting.

  20. Keep up with the trial on Dipity, Facebook and Twitter Support Justice for Angel Downs

  21. very informative and interesting blog.
    Thanks for sharing:-)

  22. Ms. Murphy-Milano . . . the obvious errors in your "journalistic fable" are amazing. Even after the fact . . . a mistrial in December . . . and knowing that the new Baldwin County D.A. is reviewing all aspects of the case before bringing this case to trial again . . . your original fantasy is a compilation of errors. Whether we "like" Nodine or not, there is a system of justice in this country and, yes, even here in south Alabama, that prevails and is based in truth and fact and not the ravings of a misguided "advocate" of all crimes against women. All persons involved in this case, policemen, sheriff's deputies, probation officers, lawyers, and judges are working within the law and are doing their duty as it is mandated. They are following orders, following the rules, and dealing with this situation in a legal and correct manner. You slander them all and those of us citizens of this area that they serve with your unfounded and ignorant rantings. You seriously need to get the facts straight and desist in "shooting from the hip". You do more damage than good with your uninformed and slanderous remarks. I am surprised that anyone takes you seriously if you do not do a better job researching your stories and then putting your own bias spin on them. Your commentary is not based on fact. At least you spelled all the names correctly . . . I can give you points for that!


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