Competency Trial Begins For Oklahoma Man In Beheading Death
OKLAHOMA CITY - A Cleveland County district judge will decide whether an Oklahoma man charged with beheading a co-worker in Moore is competent to be tried for first-degree murder.
Authorities say 31-year-old Alton Nolen had recently converted to Islam when he allegedly attacked 54-year-old Colleen Hufford, beheading her with a knife. Nolen had been suspended from his job at Vaughan Foods processing plant where they worked when the attack occurred on Sept. 25, 2014.
Defense attorneys claim Nolen is unable to help them prepare his defense, a legal right the U.S. Supreme Court has said is constitutionally guaranteed.
At the trial, psychologist Ann Russell submitted her evaluation of Alton Nolen. Russell also interviewed Nolen’s sister, Paige, during her evaluation.
Nolen’s sister Paige told the doctor she had previously lived with Nolen and that he could not establish goals. Paige told the doctor she recalled Nolen having trouble in school and remembered that people made fun of him when he could not understand things.
School records show Nolen was in special education classes and had low scores.
In her evaluation, Russell found Nolen was aware of charges and arrests. It also stated that Nolen did not trust his attorneys and thought they were “evil”.
Russell told the court that Nolen wants the death penalty and refuses to assist his attorney with any kind of defense.
Russell had questions about Nolen’s intellectual abilities, so she gave him an IQ screening to see if he was competent to stand trial. The results concluded Nolen had an overall IQ score of 69.
Based on his answers in the IQ screening, the doctor concluded Nolen showed a lack of understanding and is intellectually disabled. The intelligence screening found Nolen to be the age equivalent of an 18 year old, but to have the expressive abilities of a 6 year old. On daily living skills it found Nolen to be at the level of a 14-year-old child. It also found he has the coping skills of an 11 year old.
Russell told the court it would be worth sending Nolen to the Oklahoma Forensic Center to get competency classes. Russell stated that she does not believe Nolen is dangerous because he is not showing signs of mental illness, according to her findings.
The prosecution countered that the defense counsel was hired to determine mental competency and that 90-percent of her work is done for defense attorneys.
Prosecutors showed confirmation that Nolen graduated from anger management in Feb. 2014 and was successful in competency work. The anger management course was part of his probation from another criminal case.
District Judge Lori Walkley is presiding over the case and will decide whether Nolen is competent for trial.
A not guilty plea has been entered for Nolen. Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty.