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Moore Beheading Defendant Again Pleads Guilty; Judge Continues to Delay Acceptance of Plea

20-May-2016

The suspect in a beheading at a Moore foods supplier continues to plead guilty to first degree murder and other charges and says he wants to be sentenced to death. The judge presiding over the case continues to delay acceptance of the plea, saying that she must be convinced the man is not mentally incompetent and understands the nature of his plea.

Alton Alexander Nolen, 31, waived his right to a jury trial and pleaded guilty to one count of first degree murder in the death of a co-worker, assault and battery with a deadly weapon in the stabbing of another, and assault with a dangerous weapon for approaching another employee with a knife before being shot and disarmed. He refuses to plead guilty to three counts of assault involving three other employees who tried to fight him off during the attack. He has asked for the death penalty.

Cleveland County District Judge Lori Walkley has been hesitant to accept his plea, noting that a defendant must understand that he or she is giving up the right to a jury trial and must fully understand what it means to plead guilty to the charges. Defense experts have testified that Nolen is mentally ill and incapable of such understanding.

During the hearing, Judge Walkley questioned Nolen extensively about the events and the nature of the his plea. Reports say that Nolen continued to say he was guilty of three crimes, but that his responses were "rambling."

Although the judge has not yet accepted Nolen's guilty plea, she said that she will reach a decision by August 12. If she accepts the plea and convicts Nolen of murder and assault, sentencing will take place between August 17-19. Although prosecutors and Nolen have each asked for the death penalty in the case, state law requires the prosecution to present evidence that the murder contains the aggravating factors necessary to elevate the crime to capital murder. Among these 8 aggravating factors is that "The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel."

The case began in September 2014, when Nolen was fired from Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma, for making racial remarks. He left the facility and returned with a large knife, beheading one former co-worker, stabbing and attempting to behead another, and charging at Vaughan Foods executive Mark E. Vaughan. Vaughan, a reserve Oklahoma County Sheriff's deputy, shot Nolen, ending the attack.

Nolen has prior felony convictions, including assault and battery of a police officer and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.



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