NORMAN, Okla. (CN) — An Oklahoma man accused of beheading a co-worker and nearly beheading a second at a food processing plant was subdued by deputies and removed from court Monday for causing a disturbance during a competency hearing.
Alton Alexander Nolen struggled with deputies during the hearing, and state District Judge Lori Walkley cleared the courtroom, The Oklahoman newspaper reported.
Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn told reporters his office has seen such outbursts with other defendants.
“Today there was a disturbance in the courtroom, [the judge] not knowing if he was wanting to stay and be a part of the rest of the proceedings,” Mashburn said outside the courtroom. “That is why the judge requested of him if he wanted to stay or not.”
Nolen is accused of beheading 54-year-old Colleen Hufford in 2014 at a Vaughn Foods processing plant after she complained about him “not liking white people.”
Prosecutors say he also tried to behead Traci Johnson, cutting her throat and face, before trying to stab a company executive, who shot him.
Nolen pleaded guilty in May 2016 to first-degree murder and two counts of assault and battery with a deadly weapon. Judge Walkley has yet to accept the plea, pending a determination of Nolen’s competency.
“If he is found competent, the judge will then ask him how he wishes to proceed,” Mashburn said. “If that is still his wish and he is found competent, she can accept his plea and we will go into the sentencing phase.”
After Nolen entered his plea in May 2016, Walkley questioned him for 90 minutes about the crime and whether he understood he was waiving his right to a jury trial. He responded with rambling answers, referring to his Islamic faith and saying that events in his life were pre-determined. The Muslim convert stopped at one point to pray.