NORMAN, Okla. (CN) — Prosecutors chipped away at Alton Nolen’s insanity defense Tuesday, grilling defense expert witnesses who say he was mentally ill when he beheaded a co-worker at an Oklahoma food-processing plant in 2014.
Licensed psychiatrist Antoinette McGarrahan, of Dallas, acknowledged during cross-examination that her schizophrenia diagnosis of Nolen, 32, could be considered “somewhat objective,” but that she is trained to make such a diagnosis.
She testified under direct examination Monday that she examined Nolen for nine hours over two days in 2016 and concluded “there were numerous indications of mental illness.” She said Nolen stuttered, said he was tempted by the sight of her feet, called her an infidel and “seemed preoccupied with what was going on in his mind.”
McGarrahan said Nolen would refer to things “in the name of Allah” when it wasn’t appropriate to what was being discussed and that there was a history of mental illness in his family.
Nolen is charged with the first-degree murder of Colleen Hufford at a Vaughn Foods plant in Norman in September 2014. The killing made national headlines because aside from its gruesome nature, Nolen, who is black, had converted to Islam, and Hufford, 54, was a white woman.
Nolen allegedly killed Hufford in retaliation for being suspended when she complained about racial remarks he made while the two were on an assembly line. Nolen’s attorneys acknowledge that he killed Hufford, but say he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Psychologist Anita Russell, of Tulsa, also testified Tuesday, saying Nolen was insane and “delusional” during the attack. She said he tried to dictate the conversation during her 2015 evaluation and refused to discuss his personal life.
The trial has lasted three weeks, with the defense expected to rest their case Wednesday. Last week prosecutors played recordings of Nolen calmly admitting the killing to investigators, saying it was justified because he felt “oppressed” as a Muslim.
Nolen was shot and wounded by a company executive, stopping a subsequent attack on Traci Johnson, 46. She testified on Sept. 18 that he cut her up “like a piece of meat,” and she needed surgery to repair damage to her jugular vein.