(Photo courtesy of the CCSO)
CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman County District Attorney Wilson Blaylock announces that Nathan Winston Stephens was sentenced to 75 years in prison by Circuit Judge Greg Nicholas on Thursday for his failure to register as a sex offender conviction from November.
“Although our office asked for the maximum punishment of either life or 99 years, we are pleased with Nathan Stephens being sentenced to 75 years in prison,” said District Attorney Blaylock. “Stephens is a prime example of what is wrong with the get-out-of-prison laws being enacted by our state leaders in Montgomery. He was released early from prison on a 10-year sentence out of Marshall County and within two days had become the suspect in the murder of Herndon Self. He also failed to register as a sex offender within the time allowed by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. This 75-year sentence guarantees that Stephens will remain behind bars. Our office will now continue forward with the prosecution of Stephens for the murder Herndon Self and bring justice to the Self family.”
In November, a Cullman County jury convicted Stephens after hearing testimony from a prison official and local law enforcement officers that Stephens had failed to register with law enforcement within three business days as required under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act after his release from prison in September 2020.
At the sentencing hearing held on Thursday, the District Attorney’s Office was represented by District Attorney Wilson Blaylock, Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Cline and Pre-Trial Coordinator Tracey Smith. The District Attorney’s Office requested that Stephens be sentenced to the maximum punishment of either life or 99 years in prison pursuant to the Habitual Felony Offender Act. Stephens is not eligible for good-time credit due to the length of his sentence.
Stephens was released early from prison by the Alabama Department of Corrections in September 2020. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a conviction out of Marshall County in 2017. His original minimum release date on the Marshall County conviction was September 10
2021, according to good-time credits; however, due to a law implemented by the state legislature, Stephens was released one year prior on September 10, 2020. Within days after his early release from prison, Stephens was wanted as the suspect for the stabbing death of Herndon Self. Stephens was able to evade arrest on the murder charge and sex offender violation for one month until he was captured in Georgia. The murder case remains pending, and Stephens faces a maximum punishment of either life or life without the possibility of parole if convicted.
**As for the pending murder indictment against Stephens, the law requires prosecutors to make the following disclosure: Any indication of an indictment does not mean the individual identified has been convicted of a crime. All persons indicted are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.