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Moore beheading suspect ruled “not intellectually disabled,” still eligible for execution

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NORMAN, Okla. - The man charged of beheading a coworker was ruled not intellectually disabled Friday afternoon.

That means 32-year-old Alton Nolen will still be eligible for execution.

In September 2014, authorities said Alton Nolen stabbed Colleen Hufford, 54, multiple times and beheaded her inside the Vaughan Foods distribution center.

After attacking Hufford, Nolen is accused of stabbing 43-year-old Traci Johnson numerous times before being shot by Mark Vaughan, the former CEO of the company and a reserve sheriff’s deputy.

Hufford died from her injuries, but Johnson survived.

Authorities arrested Nolen for the attack and charged him with murder.

Last year, he attempted to plead guilty to the charge, but a judge refused to accept the plea.

After ruling Nolen competent the day before, Judge Lori Walkley said the defendant was not intellectually disabled.

Nolen's lawyers put a school psychologist on the stand, who diagnosed the defendant with a mild intellectual disability. Though Nolen may not appear disabled physically, Dr. Daniel Reschly testified, his withdrawal from communication and difficulty learning, processing and understanding showed a below-average IQ.

By law in Oklahoma, people with IQs below 76 are not eligible to receive the death penalty.

Judge Walkley called the testimony "illuminating" but said it was not clear and convincing and relied on too many presumptions.

"I disagree with some of his conclusions," she said. "Mr. Nolen has demonstrated his ability to communicate when he wants to."

Lately, he hasn't wanted to.

Friday was Nolen's fourth consecutive day of skipping out the proceedings after an outburst on Monday.

But he will be forced to appear Tuesday morning, at which point the judge will ask him to stand by the guilty plea he wanted to make last February.

"I can just tell you at this point in time he has not given the impression that he's going to answer any more questions in a court setting," said Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn. "And if he doesn't we'll be on a one-way track to a jury trial I guess."

A jury will be called in if Nolen does not re-enter his plea. Should that occur, his attorneys could again bring up the intellectual disability argument.

Right now, the judge is planning for the sentencing trial to begin Tuesday, featuring testimony from approximately ten witnesses, including attack survivor Traci Johnson.

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