Sentencing phase begins in Moore beheading trial

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NORMAN, Okla. - Jurors are beginning to consider the penalty for a convicted murderer following a workplace beheading horror.

Alton Nolen, 33, was handed three life sentences plus 130 years on five assault charges alone Monday for beheading his coworker, stabbing another and attacking others in September 2014 inside Vaughan Foods.

Nolen has been convicted of first-degree murder for beheading Colleen Hufford, who died as a result of her injuries. Traci Johnson, who was stabbed multiple times by him, survived.

He was convicted of five assault crimes last Friday. His sentencing Monday went as follows:

  • Count 2 (assault with a deadly weapon): Life
  • Count 3 (assault with a dangerous weapon): 55 years
  • Count 4 (assault with a dangerous weapon): Life
  • Count 5 (assault with a dangerous weapon): Life
  • Count 6 (assault with a dangerous weapon): 75 years

The state is seeking the death penalty for the murder charge, however the jury must first consider if Nolen is intellectually disabled. Without jurors presented Monday afternoon, Judge Lori Walkley ruled to separate the mental retardation deliberation from the death penalty. The mental health proceeding began Monday.

Cleveland County DA Greg Mashburn told reporters Monday the process is usually completed together.

If Nolen is found to be intellectually disabled, he would no longer be eligible for the death penalty. If the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict or reject the claim completely, Nolen may still face the death penalty.

Defense attorneys called Dr. Anita Jeanne Russell, a Tulsa-based psychologist who evaluated Nolen in spring 2015, back to the stand. In the first phase of trial, she testified Nolen was mentally ill and suffering from schizophrenia.

Russell maintained Monday, Nolen was intellectually disabled citing evidence from multiple tests she administered.

During cross-examination, assistant DA Susan Caswell argued Nolen's past school records did not indicate evidence of mental retardation.

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