NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — A judge in Oklahoma refused Wednesday to accept a guilty plea from a man accused of beheading a co-worker at a food processing plant in 2014, instead ordering another mental evaluation.
Cleveland County District Judge Lori Walkley said she wouldn’t accept the plea from Alton Nolen, who has said he wants the death penalty for the attack at Vaughan Foods in Moore, because Nolen is not mentally competent enough. He will go to the state mental hospital for more tests.
Nolen is charged with first-degree murder in the beheading of Colleen Hufford, 54, at the plant shortly after he was suspended from the company for making racial remarks. He was also accused of stabbing and wounding another co-worker before a company executive shot him.
“They’re entitled to justice,” Walkley said of the victims and their families. “While it may not be swift, it will be sure.”
The victim’s daughter, Kelli Hufford, said in a statement that “justice was not served.”
“The level of disappointment my family and I are experiencing at this moment is almost incomprehensible,” she said. “Giving this monster any more time on this earth rather than charging him and sentencing him to the death penalty for killing my mother is inexcusable.”
Nolen’s defense attorneys have argued that he is mentally ill and unable to cooperate with them. At a hearing last week, a neuropsychologist testifying for the defense said Nolen is schizophrenic.
“He has lost touch with reality. … He can’t think rationally because he firmly believes he is being held captive, and we are all evil and the devil,” Antoinette McGarrahan said.
District Attorney Greg Mashburn told Oklahoma City television station KFOR Wednesday that he hopes there won’t be much delay due to the new round of tests ordered.
“I think he is competent,” Mashburn said. “We’ll have him looked at one more time and get back and hopefully get this case back on track.”
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