|Judge: Releasing defendant could pose danger for intended victim|
Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston:
Angela Nolen is counseled by one of her defense attorneys, Melissa Keen, as Judge George Jones denies her bond Wednesday morning.
Friday, March 1, 2013
By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer
The Moneta woman accused of hiring a hit man to kill her ex-husband was denied bond in two Franklin County courts Wednesday.
Angela Robin Nolen, 47, is charged with solicitation to commit murder for allegedly meeting with an undercover state police agent and paying him $4,000 to kill her ex-husband, Paul "Jay" Strickler.
Circuit Court Judge W.N. Alexander II denied bond due to the serious nature of the charge and the possible danger to the intended victim, he said.
"I don't believe the defendant is a danger to the community in general," Alexander said. "But I can't say that of the intended victim."
Shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit, Nolen stepped onto the witness stand and told the judge she needed to meet with her family, secure her property and get her finances in order.
"I have a lot of things to take care of," she said in a voice so low that the judge asked her to speak up.
During a summary of the evidence against Nolen, Franklin County Commonwealth's Attorney Tim Allen told the judge that Nolen met with an undercover state police agent in the parking lot at Lowe's in Rocky Mount on Feb. 19. Nolen then went to her bank to withdraw $4,000, returned to the parking lot and gave the money to the agent, he said.
Allen said Nolen had given a statement to investigators that indicated she was involved in the murder-for-hire plot and that she had demonstrated remorse.
During the hearing Wednesday afternoon, Nolan's attorney David Furrow argued that Nolan has no prior record and should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
He said Nolen was "grounded in the community," having lived here her entire life and having a young child and parents in the area.
Furrow told the court that Nolen needed time with her 7-year-old daughter to prepare the child for what was to come, as well as time to prepare her defense.
Earlier in the day on Wednesday, General District Court Judge George Jones denied Nolan bond. Furrow immediately appealed the decision to circuit court as the defendant began to cry.
Last week, Alexander granted a $75,000 bond to Nolen's codefendant in the alleged plot to kill her ex-husband.
Cathy Warren Bennett, 37, of Rocky Mount was released from jail last Friday after posting the bond. Bennett is charged as an accessory in the alleged murder-for-hire scheme.
Alexander also ordered Bennett to stay away from Sontag Elementary School and to have no contact with any school employees.
Both Nolen and Bennett were employed at Sontag Elementary School, Austin said. Nolen was a kindergarten teacher and Bennett was the school nurse.
In accordance with state law, both women have been suspended, pending the outcome of their trials. If acquitted, Nolen and Bennett will be reinstated and paid for the time they were suspended.
Both women are charged with felony counts, punishable by up to 40 years in prison.
Although state police investigators have not released information as to motive in the case, court records show that Nolen was granted a protective order for family abuse on behalf of herself and the couple's adopted 7-year-old daughter against Strickler shortly before the couple divorced in December 2012.
The protective order, issued by Franklin County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in October 2012, prohibited Strickler from having any contact with Nolen and limited his contact with their daughter to three 5-minute phone calls per week, according to the document.
A judge granted the protective order after Nolen had "proven the allegation of family abuse by a preponderance of evidence," the order states.
The protective order remains in effect until October 2014.
Nolen has sole custody of their daughter, who is currently living with Nolen's parents in Rocky Mount.