“May God have mercy on your soul,” Oklahoma man formally sentenced for beheading coworker


Alton Nolen

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NORMAN, Okla. — An Oklahoma man was formally sentenced Friday morning for beheading a coworker at a food plant.

Alton Nolen, 33, was convicted of first degree murder in late September for beheading his coworker Colleen Hufford inside Vaughan Foods in September 2014. Following a two-phase trial beginning in mid-September, jurors recommended Nolen be sentenced to death in October.

By then, he had already been handed three life sentences plus 130 years combined on assault charges for stabbing another coworker Traci Johnson and attacking other workers inside the plant that day. Johnson survived the attack.

In October, she told reporters she did not know if she could ever forgive Nolen for his actions.

“Mr. Nolen, I don’t understand why you did what you did to me and Colleen and the other gentlemen, but that was wrong and you know it was,” she said. “I pray for you.”

In 2014, Nolen justified his actions to investigators by claiming he was a practicing Muslim and believed his actions were correct by the Quran. During closing arguments in October, Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Masburn noted Nolen asked for the death penalty at one point.

“He wants it, because he thinks something good is waiting for him on the other side. Give it to him, and let him find out,” Mashburn told the jury.

In court Friday morning, Judge Lori Walkley accepted the recommendation of the jury, sentencing Nolen to death by lethal injection for beheading Hufford.

“May God have mercy on your soul,” Judge Walkley said after sentencing Nolen.

The judge also ruled Nolen will serve all of the sentences consecutively after thanking the survivors of the attack along with Hufford’s family for their bravery during the trial.

Hufford’s daughter Kelli Baranek told reporters afterwards, the family can finally move forward.

“I won’t lie. There were days it was really hard to sit there very quiet and understand it’s all part of the process, but I also knew this day would come and here we are,” said Baranek.

Cleveland County DA Greg Mashburn says there are automatic appeal processes in place.

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