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Penalty phase of trial for man convicted of beheading coworker resumes

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NORMAN, Okla. - The penalty phase of the trial for a man convicted of beheading his coworker resumed Tuesday morning after a legal snag last week.

Alton Nolen, 33, is facing the death penalty after a jury unanimously convicted him of first-degree murder for beheading his coworker, Colleen Hufford, inside Vaughan Foods. Before deciding on punishment, the jury must first determine whether Nolen is intellectually disabled.

Dr. Jarrod Steffan, a neuropsychologist and expert witness for the state, resumed his testimony Tuesday morning. Steffan elaborated on his concerns over errors in testing conducted on Nolen by Dr. Anita Jeanne Russell, a psychologist who testified for the defense. He testified finding six errors total, with some parts of the test "discontinued prematurely" and other having issues in calculation.

"This speaks to carelessness," Steffan said on the stand.

Defense attorneys for Nolen presented six witnesses including mental health experts who testified Nolen is living with a mild form of intellectual disability.

If the jury unanimously finds Nolen to have an intellectual disability, he will no longer be eligible for the death penalty. A complete decision on his punishment is expected by Thursday morning at the latest, according to Cleveland County DA Greg Mashburn.