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Judge rules that Moore beheading suspect is competent

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NORMAN, Okla. – A Cleveland County judge decided Thursday afternoon a man charged with beheading a coworker is mentally competent.

Alton Nolen once again decided not to attend his mental competency hearing.

It’s the third consecutive day he has skipped out on the proceedings since an outburst Monday.

Judge Lori Walkley asked a different judge to speak with Nolen on Thursday morning in an attempt to bring him to the courtroom but he was “equally unresponsive,” she said.

Nolen’s lawyers contend the plaintiff was not present because of his mental state, not by choice.

Testimony continued Thursday with two medical professionals who concluded Nolen was competent.

Dr. Shawn Roberson told the court about his meetings with Nolen, in which he largely refused to cooperate.

But, Roberson said Nolen clearly understood the roles of the people in the courtroom and could explain the plea options in his own words.

Roberson also pointed out the 32-year-old suspect had never previously been diagnosed with a mental illness.

In his past court appearances, competency was never an issue, Roberson said.

Nolen’s attorneys argued people often “slip through the cracks” when it comes to diagnosing mental health.

They questioned Roberson’s bias as a hired witness, pointing out he spent more time speaking with members of the prosecution than evaluating Nolen.

On Thursday afternoon, Walkley ruled Nolen is competent.

Now, the case will move into the sentencing phase.

If he had been found incompetent, Nolen would have been sent to the state mental health facility in Vinita.

Nolen is accused of murdering his coworker, Colleen Hufford, in 2014.

Kelli Hufford, the victim’s daughter, released the following statement after Thursday’s events:

“My family and I are extremely pleased he was found competent to plead guilty. We understand the importance of finding justice through the judicial system, and now it appears to our family he will receive the greatest sentence possible as punishment for his heinous acts.”

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