NORMAN, Okla. – A jury of 12 has found a defendant on trial for a horrific workplace attack guilty of all charges, including first degree murder.
Alton Nolen was convicted Friday for beheading his coworker Colleen Hufford and stabbing another coworker Traci Johnson inside Vaughan Foods in September 2014.
Nolen justified his actions in a taped interview with investigators by claiming he felt “oppressed” at work and his actions were correct under the Quran.
State prosecutors presented more than 20 witnesses including Johnson in the three week trial, plus three rebuttal witnesses refuting claims by the defense that Nolen was mentally insane.
The jury took two hours to make their decision Friday.
“Justice for Colleen, that’s all we wanted,” said Cleveland County DA Greg Mashburn. “Certainly, I was glad that they were able to see that quickly and come back with a verdict.”
Nolen’s team of attorneys, including Shea Smith and Mitch Solomon, spent three days questioning mental health and religion experts on the stand. They testified Nolen did not have a firm grasp of Islam and was suffering from Schizophrenia.
During closing arguments Friday, assistant District Attorney Susan Caswell honed in one major discrepancy revealed during this trial. A 2015 report from a psychologist who testified for the defense for this trial read she did not initially diagnosis Nolen with a mental illness.
“Psychosis doesn’t ‘pop up’ when it’s convenient,” Caswell said Friday. “That’s not how mental illnesses work.”
When asked for a comment from Nolen’s attorneys after the verdict, Solomon told News 4 it was “inappropriate” to make a comment at this time.
With this guilty verdict, the trial now moves into Phase II which will determine sentencing. The state is pursuing the death penalty.