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Guilty Verdict Reached in Oklahoma Beheading Case

29-Sep-2017

It is one of Oklahoma's most gruesome and shocking crimes in recent history. Alton Alexander Nolen, an employee of Vaughan Foods in Moore, walked out of the building upon being suspended from his job, went to get a large knife, and re-entered the building bent on vengeance. During his violent rampage, he beheaded one employee and attempted to behead another, assaulting five people and killing one before being shot by Mark Vaughan, the company's Chief Operating Officer and Oklahoma County reserve sheriff's deputy.

Almost exactly three years later, the case has reached its conclusion. On Friday, a Cleveland County jury rejected Nolen's insanity defense, deliberating for only two hours before reaching a guilty verdict. 

Alton Nolen has been found guilty of one count of first degree murder for the killing of Colleen Hufford. He has also been found guilty of two counts of assault and battery with a deadly weapon and three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon for the attempted beheading of Traci Johnson and the attack on four other Vaughan Foods employees.

During the course of his case, Nolen had tried to plead guilty several times and asked a judge to sentence him to death. However, the judge rejected his plea and ordered mental health evaluation to determine Nolen's competency.

When experts determined that Nolen was, in fact, competent to stand trial, he refused to re-iterate his guilty plea and the case went to trial.

Nolen's defense team argued that their defendant was not guilty by reason of insanity. They presented two psychologists claiming that Nolen was legally insane at the time of the murder and attempted murder. The key defense expert testified, "I found him to be quite delusional."

The prosecution countered with two experts of their own, including their key expert witness who claimed that while Nolen had anti-social tendencies and a personality disorder, he was not legally insane.

The jury sided with the prosecution in finding Nolen guilty of the crimes. Because prosecutors are seeking a death sentence for Alton Nolen, the case heads to the penalty phase of the trial on Monday.



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