Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Jurors Recommend Death Penalty for Oklahoma Beheader

An Oklahoma jury recommended the death penalty Thursday for convicted murderer Alton Nolen for gruesomely beheading a co-worker at a food-processing plant in 2014.

NORMAN, Okla. (CN) – An Oklahoma jury recommended the death penalty Thursday for convicted murderer Alton Nolen for gruesomely beheading a co-worker at a food-processing plant in 2014.

The 12-member Cleveland County jury deliberated for four hours in the afternoon after being told by prosecutors that Nolen, 33, wanted to die.

“He wants the death penalty,” Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said, The Oklahoman newspaper reported. “Give him what he wants."

The jury convicted Nolen in September of first-degree murder, four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of assault and battery with a deadly weapon.

Nolen admitted to killing Colleen Hufford, 54, with a knife at the Vaughan Foods plant in Norman, but asserted an insanity defense. He purportedly killed her in retaliation for being suspended when she complained about racial remarks he made on an assembly line.

Hufford was white, while Nolen is black and a Muslim convert.

Mashburn showed jurors images of Hufford in life before showing images of her severed head and body.

The punishment phase lasted two weeks, as jurors have already sentenced Nolen to three life sentences plus 130 years in state prison on the assault and battery charges.

On Wednesday, the jury rejected the defense’s argument that Nolen qualifies as “mentally retarded” under state law. The death penalty would have been off the table if the jury concluded otherwise.

Nolen tried to behead a second co-worker during the attack, but failed when he was shot by a company executive.

He later confessed that he initiated the attack because he felt oppressed as a Muslim.

Nolen’s attorneys pleaded for his life before deliberations, repeating arguments that he is mentally ill and mentally disabled.

“You do not need a doctor to tell you something is wrong with him,” attorney Shea Smith said. “He’s clearly got something wrong.”

Follow @davejourno
Categories / Criminal, Trials

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.

Loading...