Oklahoma man accused of beheading coworker removed from courtroom after outburst

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NORMAN, Okla. – A man accused of beheading a coworker in 2014 had an outburst inside a Cleveland County courtroom.

On Sept. 25, 2014, authorities said Alton Nolen stabbed 54-year-old Colleen Hufford multiple times and beheaded her inside the Vaughan Foods distribution center.

After attacking Hufford, Nolen is accused of stabbing 43-year-old Traci Johnson numerous times before being shot by Mark Vaughan, the former CEO of the company and a reserve sheriff’s deputy.

Hufford died from her injuries, but Johnson survived.

Authorities arrested Nolen for the attack and charged him with murder.

Last year, he attempted to plead guilty to the charge, but a judge refused to accept the plea.

On Monday, Nolen was in court for a competency hearing.

"We've had, on occasion, defendants act up in the courtroom,” said Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn.

Jumping up from his seat, Nolen resisted deputies.

At one point, a deputy asked Nolen if he understood her, and he replied, saying “Do you understand me?”

"Today, having the disturbance in the courtroom, not knowing if he was wanting to stay and be a part of the rest of the proceedings - that's why the judge asked him if he wanted to stay or not,” Mashburn said.

When Nolen couldn’t answer the judge’s question, he was removed from the courtroom.

Nolen's outburst came during testimony from several healthcare professionals.

"I think the deputies had it under control for the rest of the time. Once he got out of line, the deputies made sure they had control of the situation,” Mashburn said.

Whether or not he returns to the courtroom for the continuation of his court proceedings will be up to him.

"She'll continue to make that request every morning: if he wants to come over. And, if he wants to come over, he can be a part and, if not, he'll remain at the county jail,” Mashburn said.

If the judge determines Nolen is competent, the trial will move on to the punishment phase.

Court is in recess until 9 a.m. Tuesday. ​


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