Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska said Wednesday he acted appropriately when filing court proceedings seeking about $10,000 from a former public official initially charged with murdering his girlfriend. The court action was filed against Stephen Nodine, a former Mobile County Commissioner.
"The case was moved to Houston County a few months ago because of pre-trial publicity in southwest Alabama," Valeska said. That came after Nodine's first trial ended in mistrial when a Baldwin County jury could not reach a verdict in the death of Angel Downs.
Three days before the trial was to begin in Dothan a plea agreement was reached in which the murder charge against Nodine was dropped. Instead, he pleaded guilty to harassment and perjury and was sentenced to 10 years in prison with all but two years suspended. He has since been placed in a work release program.
"The clerk's office, as they would do in any case, sends my office paperwork showing money owed has not been paid," Valeska said. Included in the $10,000 are costs for a court appointed attorney and other costs billable to Nodine. "My assistants filed to collect the money from the defendant and that was exactly what they should have done," Valeska said in a telephone interview with DothanFirst.com.
Nodine told the website AL.com that he does not believe it is coincidence that the legal action was filed a day after testifying in a court hearing he hoped would modify his sentence. It didn't. He suggested there is collusion between Supernumerary District Attorney David Whetstone, who prosecuted Nodine, and Valeska. "That's absurd," said Valeska. Whetstone told AL.com that a glitch likely led to the action to be filed in Houston County.
Valeska said Nodine's attorneys are welcome to file paperwork seeking to move case back to Baldwin County where it was first tried. "But, for now, we'll pursue it just like we would any other case," Valeska said.