Final stage of penalty phase for man convicted of beheading coworker continues

NORMAN, Okla. -- The final stage of the penalty phase for a man convicted of beheading his coworker continued Wednesday morning with testimony from law enforcement.

After nearly a full week of testimony from mental health experts, former teachers, and friends, it took jurors less than an hour Tuesday to find Alton Nolen mentally fit to face the death penalty.

Nolen was convicted of first-degree murder for beheading his former coworker, Colleen Hufford, inside Vaughan Foods in September 2014.

He was handed three life sentences plus 130 years in prison on assault charges alone for stabbing Traci Johnson and charging at other workers during the same incident.

Hufford died from her injuries; however, Johnson survived.

By noon on Wednesday, five members of law enforcement completed testimony recalling incidents with Nolen when he would become violent.

Michael Butts, a correctional officer at the Cleveland County Detention Center, testified Nolen 'sucker-punched' him in August 2016 when Butts brought a book cart around the cells for inmates.

According to Butts, Nolen questioned why he was jumped by [Butts] the week prior, which was apparently not true. Surveillance tape capturing the incident was shown in court Wednesday, showing Nolen strike Butts multiple times before another officer was eventually able to gain control.

Immediately after jury deliberations Tuesday, state prosecutors and defense attorneys for Nolen began brief opening statements arguing why Nolen should die for the crime and why he should not.

"We're here to fight for our client's life," defense attorney Mitch Solomon told the jury.

Under Tuesday's verdict, Nolen faces three possible punishments for murdering Hufford: life with parole, life without parole, and the death penalty.