Oklahoma beheading suspect found guilty on all counts, including first-degree murder

FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2016 file photo, Alton Nolen is led from the courtroom following his preliminary hearing in Norman, Okla. Nolen, accused of beheading a co-worker and attacking another person at a food processing plant is due in court, Friday, May 20, 2016 to enter his plea on a first-degree murder charge. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – A jury of 12 has found a defendant on trial for a horrific workplace attack guilty of all charges, including first-degree murder.

Alton Nolen was convicted Friday for beheading his coworker Colleen Hufford and stabbing another coworker Traci Johnson inside Vaughan Foods in September 2014.

Nolen justified his actions in a taped interview with investigators by claiming he felt “oppressed” at work and his actions were correct under the Quran.

State prosecutors presented more than 20 witnesses including Johnson in the three week trial, plus three rebuttal witnesses refuting claims by the defense that Nolen was mentally insane.

His team of attorneys, including Shea Smith and Mitch Solomon, spent three days questioning mental health and religion experts on the stand. They testified Nolen did not have a firm grasp of Islam and was suffering from Schizophrenia.

During closing arguments Friday, assistant District Attorney Susan Caswell honed in one major discrepancy revealed during this trial. A 2015 report from a psychologist who testified for the defense for this trial read she did not initially diagnosis Nolen with a mental illness.

“Psychosis doesn’t ‘pop up’ when it’s convenient,” Caswell said Friday. “That’s not how mental illnesses work.”

With this guilty verdict, the trial now moves into Phase II which will determine sentencing. The state is pursuing the death penalty.


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