Oklahoma jury recommends the death penalty in beheading case
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — A jury Thursday recommended the death penalty for an Oklahoma man convicted of beheading a co-worker in 2014.
Jurors convicted Alton Nolen, 33, on Sept. 29 of killing 54-year-old Colleen Hufford and trying to kill another co-worker at a food processing plant in Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City.
Jurors agreed on Oct. 2 that Nolen should serve three life sentences plus 130 years in prison on assault and battery charges stemming from his attack on the co-worker who survived. Jurors took less than three hours Thursday to recommend the death penalty on the first-degree murder charge.
Investigators said Nolen had just been suspended from his job at the Vaughan Foods plant when he walked inside the company’s administrative office and attacked his co-workers.
During the trial, prosecutors played recordings of Nolen confessing to the stabbings while he was hospitalized following the attack. In the recordings, Nolen says he doesn’t “regret it at all” and that “oppressors don’t need to be here.”
Nolen’s attorneys argued that he is mentally ill and that he believed he was doing the right thing because of his delusional misinterpretations of the Quran. But prosecutors said Nolen knew right from wrong before he attacked Hufford, and Oklahoma City television station KFOR reported that this point was emphasized during closing arguments.
Nolen had repeatedly tried to plead guilty and asked to be executed, but Cleveland County District Judge Lori Walkley declined to accept his plea. One of Nolen’s attorneys had questioned whether his client was mentally competent to enter a guilty plea.
At a 2016 hearing, Nolen told the judge that he would only accept a death sentence, not life in prison with or without the possibility of parole. The judge repeatedly reminded Nolen that if he pleaded guilty and waived his right to a jury trial, the decision to sentence him would be up to a judge, not him.