NORMAN — A murder defendant told a judge Thursday he still wants to plead guilty and be given a death sentence for beheading a co-worker at a Moore food distribution plant.
“As a Muslim, we are not afraid to die,” Alton Alexander Nolen said.
Nolen told the judge he wanted to waive any further hearings and go ahead and plead guilty Thursday. He said he already had thought about the consequences of agreeing to the death penalty.
He said he would not accept life in prison or life in prison without the possibility of parole as punishments.
His intentions have put him at odds with his court-appointed defense attorneys, who contend he is not mentally competent to make that decision.
Cleveland County District Judge Lori Walkley told him she would not accept his guilty plea yet, saying she wanted to give him more time to think about it.
Nolen is scheduled to be in court again May 20 and could plead guilty then. If he does plead guilty, another date will be scheduled for his sentencing.
Delay is normal
In planning multiple hearings, the judge is following legal guidelines for cases where a murderer essentially volunteers for the death penalty. The judge noted she had a duty to protect the integrity of the system and was going to move slow rather than fast.
In a 2006 decision, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals complimented a Canadian County judge for repeatedly offering to allow a murderer to change his mind “at virtually every stage of the proceedings.”
Nolen, 31, is charged with one count of first-degree murder, one count of assault and battery with a deadly weapon, and four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.
Nolen, who cut fruit at the plant, is accused of beheading co-worker Colleen Hufford inside Vaughan Foods on Sept. 25, 2014, shortly after he was suspended for making racial remarks. He also is accused of assaulting three other workers who tried to stop him as he cut Hufford’s neck.
He is accused of then trying to behead another co-worker and of charging with a knife at the company’s chief operating officer, who shot him.
Nolen, a Muslim convert, had started working at the plant in January
2013 while at a halfway house for felons finishing prison sentences, records show. He lived in an apartment in Moore near the plant.
Hufford, 54, of Moore, appears to have been chosen at random. She was attacked from behind.
Nolen’s intentions to plead guilty and accept a death sentence first were revealed in testimony at a competency hearing in October.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge found him to be mentally competent despite those intentions.
“The fact that he does not agree with the strategy of his attorneys does not mean he is incompetent,” Walkley wrote in a three-page order.
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