Federal gun charge keeps killer behind bars

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - A convicted killer who got a break from a jury may not be getting out of prison as soon as he thought.

Harold Don Noel is in state prison for killing his ex-wife's divorce lawyer in 2002. He went to trial on a first-degree murder charge, but the jury convicting him of voluntary manslaughter instead.

He drew a six-year sentence and is about due for release.

Now, though, federal authorities have stepped in and won an indictment on a gun charge that could lead to another prison sentence for Noel, this one for 10 years. And under federal law, a 10-year sentence means 10 years.

At the time of his arrest, Noel told police he was the gunman who killed lawyer Robert M. Friedman after ambushing the attorney in a Memphis parking garage. Noel also said he planned to kill his ex-wife and a judge. He has since accused police of framing him.

Friedman's widow and two sons wrote to a parole board last year describing Noel as a "violent and irrational criminal" and his conviction a "wrist-slap."

Stephen Hall, an assistant federal prosecutor, told a magistrate Thursday that the government wants Noel held without bond after his release from prison until a hearing can be held on the new charge.

Since Noel had a criminal record at the time of Friedman's death, a grand jury has charged him with being a felon in possession of a firearm, a federal offense.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)