MOORE, Okla. – Murder suspect Alton Nolen’s request to be represented by a Muslim attorney will not be granted.
Nolen made the request during Wednesday’s video arraignment at the Cleveland County courthouse in Norman.
He’s accused of beheading co-worker Colleen Hufford at Vaughan Foods one week ago. He allegedly attacked Hufford from behind with a knife and also stabbed another co-worker, Traci Johnson.
During his arraignment, Nolen told a judge “I’m Muslim. My question is, do you have any Muslims that can represent me as a Muslim?”
“That just doesn’t even factor into the equation,” Craig Sutter, Deputy Director of the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System (OIDS), said Thursday. “What Mr. Nolen needs is somebody who has experience handling capital cases.”
Sutter says OIDS will be representing Nolen, and points out the law does not recognize individual preferences.
“We don’t make assignment decisions based on race, on gender, on religious preference, on national origin. We make assignments based on competence, skill and experience,” he said.
On Thursday, District Attorney Greg Mashburn filed paperwork to seek the death penalty against Nolen.
A “bill of particulars,” filed at the courthouse says the murder of Hufford was “heinous, atrocious or cruel.”
Nolen “created a great risk of death to more than one person.”
He would be a “continuing threat to society.”
He was “previously convicted of a felony involving the use or threat of violence to the person.”
According to court records, “…witnesses also advised Nolen had become aggressive and belligerent to other employees and wanted others to call him ‘Muhammad’.”
A search warrant allowed police to take from his apartment “miscellaneous papers”, three cell phones, a laptop computer and a “knife in package.”
“He’s entitled to make whatever request he wants to,” Sutter said, “but that type of request (for a Muslim attorney) isn’t going to be honored.”
We contacted the Cleveland County Sheriff’s office to find out if Nolen was receiving special treatment in jail. We were told that information would be released Friday.