Testimony resumed Tuesday in a trial to determine whether an Oklahoma man accused in the beheading of his co-worker is mentally competent to be tried for first-degree murder.
The non-jury trial resumes for 31-year-old Alton Nolen, who is charged in the September 2014 slaying of 54-year-old Colleen Hufford at a food processing plant in Moore.
Authorities said Nolen attacked Hufford with a knife, beheading her. Nolen had just been suspended from his job at a Vaughan Foods processing plant where they worked when the attack occurred.
On Monday, a clinical psychologist testified that Nolen is mentally incompetent to be tried because he wants the death penalty and will not help his attorneys prepare his defense.
Dr. Anita Russell of Tulsa also said Nolen is intellectually impaired.
Nolen’s cousin, Crystal Green, testified on Tuesday, saying that no one in the family ever said anything about Nolen having problems or being mentally-challenged.
Nolen’s sister, 27-year-old Megan Nolen, also testified on Tuesday. Alton Nolen kept his face covered with his hands, and wouldn’t even look at his sister while she testified.
Both Megan and Alton have the same mother, but different fathers. She said that Alton always needed help with school work, and she said the family would have to help him with his homework.
Megan testified that Alton often did not understand simple or complex conversations, and that he stuttered. She said she would describe her brother as having a learning disability.
Dr. Shawn Roberson, Director of Forensic Psychology at Oklahoma Forensic Center, does evaluations for both prosecutors and defense attorneys. He testified that Nolen said he had no concerns about the death penalty, since he believed in the afterlife and he did understand the charges levied against him.
Dr. Roberson said Nolen is competent enough to assist in his defense, but was just resistant, saying he would only answer as a Muslim and refused to answer questions. Robertson said Nolen understands the legal process, but refused to accept a plea deal. He only would accept the death penalty.
Dr. Roberson claims that Nolen said, “I’m a Muslim. I’m not scared to die.” Robertson said Nolen could assist his attorneys if he chose to, so he feels Nolen is competent to stand trial.
Dr. Roberson testified that Nolen didn’t show any signs of severe mental illnesses or had any history of it. He said there was no data to suggest Nolen had any mental retardation. And if it were a concern, he would have put it in the report. But he did not.
The state’s psychologist testified it would not have skewed his opinion about Nolen’s competency. He feels Nolen is competent to stand trial, and just chooses not to assist in his defense.
Roberson testified that he saw nothing that would show Nolen was at all intellectually-disabled. He did not consider him presently dangerous due to a mental illness, but he said that does not mean Nolen is not dangerous for other reasons.
Roberson claims IQ has not validity since a person can refuse to answer questions, or can give wrong answers on purpose. He said Nolen’s elementary test scores started at a higher level scored better than 60 percent of 1st graders, but progressively got worse and worse over the following years. Nolen did poorly in college, but he made “A”s in some psychology courses.
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