Accused Murderer Removed From Court Hearing

April 4, 2017
By David Lee

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, a Muslim convert, 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 Muslim faith and saying that events in his life were pre-determined. He stopped at one point to pray.

From Courthouse News.

Accused Beheader Pleads Guilty to Murder

May 20, 2016
By David Lee
OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) – A Muslim convert accused of beheading a co-worker and nearly beheading a second at an Oklahoma food processing plant pleaded guilty Friday.
Alton Alexander Nolen, 31, of Norman, Okla., pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder and two counts of assault and battery with a deadly weapon, the Oklahoman reported.
Nolen is accused of beheading 54-year-old Colleen Hufford on Sept. 25, 2014, at a Vaughn Foods processing plant.
Prosecutors say Nolen also tried to behead a second victim, Traci Johnson, 44, cutting her throat and face, and then tried to stab a company executive, who shot him.
Nolen’s attack was sparked by a complaint Johnson made about Nolen “not liking white people,” prosecutors allege.
Psychologist Jeanne Russell testified at Nolen’s competency trial in October, saying he wanted to plead guilty and be executed because of his religious beliefs.
On Friday, Cleveland County District Judge Lori Walkley declined to rule on accepting Nolen’s plea until Aug. 12 because a separate defense expert claims Nolen is mentally ill.
Walkley questioned Nolen for 90 minutes about the crime and if he understood he was waiving his right to a jury trial by pleading guilty.
He responded with rambling answers referencing his Muslim faith and that events in his life were pre-determined. He stopped at one point and started praying, the Oklahoman reported.
Russell testified at the competency hearing that he had a “major deficit” in his “intellectual functioning” that she noticed in seven hours of interviews and tests conducted last year.
Nolen scored 62 and 69 on IQ tests and is considered mentally retarded, Russell said.

From Courthouse News.

Doctor Says Accused Oklahoma Beheader Wants to Die

October 27, 2015
By David Lee
OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) – The Muslim convert accused of beheading a coworker and nearly beheading a second wants to plead guilty and be executed, a psychologist testified Monday at his competency trial.
Jeanne Russell testified Monday that Alton Alexander Nolen, 30, of Norman, wishes to accept the death penalty because of his religious beliefs.
She cited a “major deficit” in his “intellectual functioning” that she noticed in seven hours of interviews and tests conducted on May 28 and June 30.
Nolen scored 62 and 69 on IQ tests and is mentally retarded, Russell testified.
Nolen is charged with first-degree murder, four counts of assault and battery with a deadly weapon, and one count of assault with a deadly weapon.
He is accused of killing 54-year-old Colleen Hufford on Sept. 25 last year at a Vaughn Foods processing plant in Moore; trying to behead a second victim, Traci J. Johnson, 44, of Oklahoma City, cutting her throat and face; then trying to stab a company executive, who shot him.
The attacks allegedly were sparked by a complaint Johnson made about Nolen “not liking white people.”
State District Judge Lori Walkley ordered the competency trial in September, which is expected to take several days. Nolen will stand trial if found competent by a jury – if not, he will be confined at a state mental health hospital.
Russell testified that Nolen believes “death is nothing” and that “we all have to die … this world is something to be enjoyed briefly,” The Oklahoman newspaper reported.
She told the judge that Nolen is not mentally competent to stand trial because he refuses to help his attorneys prepare a defense. She said Nolen has the communication skills of a 6-year-old child.
“He’s not trying to fight it,” Russell said. “He’s saying, ‘I’ll take the death penalty. That’s it.'”
Russell said out that Nolen’s insistence on being punished contradicts the view that he does not see what he did as a crime.
Cleveland County prosecutor Susan Caswell told the judge that Nolen might want death because he expects great rewards for acting in the name of Allah.
She disagreed with the view that Nolen is retarded, saying he graduated 83rd out of 104 students at Idabel High School, in Idabel, Okla., and got As in two college psychology classes before leaving school.

From Courthouse News.

Competency Trial Set for Alleged Beheader

September 16, 2016
By David Lee
NORMAN, Okla. (CN) – A Muslim convert accused of beheading a coworker and trying to behead a second one must face a mental competency trial, an Oklahoma judge ruled Tuesday.
Cleveland County Judge Lori Walkley ordered Alton Alexander Nolen to have his competency determined by a jury on Oct. 26.
Nolen, 30, of Norman, is accused of killing 54-year-old Colleen Hufford on Sept. 25 last year at a Vaughn Foods processing plant.
Nolen tried to behead a second victim, Traci J. Johnson, 44, of Oklahoma City, cutting her throat and face, then tried to stab a company executive, who shot him, according to news reports.
Nolen is charged with first-degree murder, four counts of assault and battery with a deadly weapon, and one count of assault with a deadly weapon.
Judge Walkley ordered the competency trial after hearing conflicting opinions from mental health experts who examined Nolen. The defense’s expert’s competency report was filed Tuesday under seal.
Nolen will face criminal trial if the jury finds him competent. If not, he will be confined in a state mental health hospital for treatment.
Nolen’s attack was sparked by a complaint Johnson made about Nolen “not liking white people,” Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said after the attacks.
Nolen allegedly drove home to get the knife after being suspended for the complaint. His now-deleted Facebook page allegedly showed several images of beheadings and Osama bin Laden, and posts about terrorism in the Middle East.
Johnson spoke publicly about the attack for the first time three months ago on the Fox News show “The Kelly File.” Johnson said she had been working at the Moore plant for four days as a temporary employee when Nolen began “slicing” her neck. Scars are still visible on the right side of her neck.
“He got ahold of my face, he cut my right index finger,” a visibly emotional Johnson said. “He wouldn’t stop as I am screaming for help and didn’t think anyone was coming around.”
Her left cheek and lip were cut and Nolen came within “a millimeter of my jugular,” she said.

From Courthouse News.

Oklahoma Victim of Failed Beheading Speaks

By David Lee
June 26, 2015
NORMAN, Okla. (CN) – An Oklahoma woman who survived a beheading attempt after an argument about race at work said the attack ruined her life.
Traci J. Johnson, 44, of Oklahoma City, spoke in detail about the attack for the first time Wednesday on the Fox News show “The Kelly File.”
Alton Alexander Nolen is charged with the first-degree murder of 54-year-old Colleen Hufford, at a Vaughn Foods processing plant.
Nolen, 30, of Norman, killed Hufford by “sawing” her neck with a “large bladed knife,” according to a criminal information.
Nolen then cut Johnson’s throat and face in the Sept. 25, 2014 attack and tried to stab a company executive, who fended off the attack by shooting him, according to contemporary news reports.
Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said in September the attack was sparked by a complaint Johnson made about Nolen “not liking white people.”
Nolen allegedly drove home to get the knife after being suspended for the complaint.
Nolen was charged with first-degree murder and assault and battery with a deadly weapon. He faces the death penalty if he is found to be mentally competent to stand trial.
His now-deleted Facebook page showed several images of beheadings and Osama bin Laden, and posts about terrorism in the Middle East. Nolen is a Muslim convert.
Johnson said she had been working at the Moore plant for just four days when Nolen began “slicing” her neck. Scars are still visible on the right side of her neck.
“He got ahold of my face, he cut my right index finger,” a visibly emotional Johnson said. “He wouldn’t stop as I am screaming for help and didn’t think anyone was coming around.”
Her left cheek and lip were cut and Nolen came within “a millimeter of my jugular,” she said.
Johnson said Vaughan Foods chief operating officer Mark Vaughan shot at Nolen and missed before Nolen charged him with the knife, resulting in two more gunshots that struck him. The attacks lasted five to 10 minutes.
Johnson was a temporary employee for 1st Staffing Group USA during the attack.
She was paid $352 per week in workers’ compensation benefits for temporary disability, which payments have stopped, The Oklahoman reported Thursday.
She told CBS-affiliate KWTV that she has “extremely hard days” coping with the attack and “wanting to give up” sometimes.
“They say I have a thing called survivor’s guilt and that’s because of what has happened,” she said in December. “I feel like a lot of this is my fault.”

From Courthouse News.

Muslim Convert Charged in Oklahoma Beheading

September 20, 2014
By David Lee
NORMAN, Okla. (CN) – A Muslim convert “openly admitted” beheading a coworker and trying to behead a second one last week after he was suspended from work, Oklahoma said Tuesday.
Alton Nolen, 30, was charged in a criminal information with first-degree murder, assault and battery with a deadly weapon, and assault with a deadly weapon.
Nolen worked at a Vaughn Foods plant in Moore and had been suspended Thursday morning, the day he allegedly beheaded a woman.
“Defendant left the HR office and drove to his residence for the sole reason to retrieve a large bladed knife,” the criminal information states. “Defendant entered the business and walked to the office where the first victim was standing. Defendant grabbed the first victim from behind and immediately began cutting her across the throat with the large knife, with a back and forth sawing motion.”
Collen Hufford was 54 years old.
Police say Nolen then attacked a second victim, Traci Johnson, 43, cutting her throat and the left side of her face. Johnson survived the attack.
Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said he would consult with Hufford’s family before deciding if his office would pursue the death penalty.
Mashburn said interviews with witnesses are continuing and that additional charges will be added if warranted.
“They threw chairs and kicked at him,” Mashburn said at a news conference Tuesday. “There were a lot of people trying to protect their co-workers and stop the attack.”
According to Nolen’s now-deleted Facebook page, he also went by the name Jah’Keem Yisrael. His page displayed several images of beheadings and Osama bin Laden, in additional to posts regarding terrorism in the Middle East.
Mashburn said the attack was sparked by a complaint Johnson made about Nolen and that it was probably more about race than religion.
The district attorney declined to charge Nolen under Oklahoma’s anti-terrorism law, and called first-degree murder “the most appropriate charge.”
“Oklahoma’s anti-terrorism statute is directed towards people who desire to coerce a civilian population or government into granting illegal, political or economic demands,” Nolen said.
National reaction to the attack has been swift, with many denouncing it as a terrorist attack. U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Virginia, asked Attorney General Eric Holder to treat the incident as terrorism.
“I am writing today to urge the Justice Department to continue to investigate this decapitation as terrorism and not be quick to just dismiss this as ‘workplace violence,’ as this administration notoriously did in the case of the 2009 terrorist attack on Fort Hood, which left 13 dead and more than 30 wounded,” Wolf said Tuesday. “In the wake of the department’s failure to ‘connect the dots’ between Anwar Awlaqi and Fort Hood terrorist Nidal Hasan, it is more important than ever for you to make clear to the department’s agents and attorneys that this is, in fact, terrorism and to determine whether this or other plots are part of an effort by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or al Qaeda to radicalize Americans and direct attacks in the U.S.”
Wolf accused the administration of “downplaying” Islamic radicalization in the Hasan case. He said the Justice Department has the “obligation” to not repeat “the shameful mistakes” of the Hassan investigation and prosecution.
Nolen was jailed twice before, according to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. He was last released in March 2013 after serving time for cocaine possession and intent to distribute charges.

From Courthouse News.