Beheading victim’s daughter: “There will always be questions”

NORMAN, Okla. - Jurors tasked with deciding punishment for a man convicted of beheading his coworker have heard the first-hand impact of the gruesome attack.

Alton Nolen, 33, was convicted of first-degree murder for beheading his coworker Colleen Hufford inside Vaughan Foods. The state is seeking the death penalty. He has already been sentenced to life for stabbing Traci Johnson during the same incident.

Hufford died from her injuries, but Johnson survived.

On Wednesday, the state called six witnesses to the stand including Kelli Baranek, Hufford's daughter. Baranek read a prepared statement, telling the courtroom Hufford was like her "personal cheerleader" who she now has to live without.

"If she died from natural causes, this would be easier to write," Baranek said. "There will always be questions. There will always be events my mother will miss."

She added their family members are also victims in the case, telling the court a piece of them died when Hufford was killed.

Defense attorneys also called several family members of Nolen's to the stand Wednesday, including his aunt Vivian who asked the jury to spare his life.

"I formed that special bond with Alton," she said. "Alton was like mine."

Alton's mother Joyce also took the stand Wednesday, becoming emotional. She told the court she was a strict mother and raised Nolen right, coming to tears at one point and apologizing.

Closing arguments will be presented Thursday morning before final deliberations.