(Reuters) - An Oklahoma jury recommended the death penalty on Thursday for a man who beheaded a co-worker with a kitchen knife at a food processing and distribution plant south of Oklahoma City about three years ago, court officials said.
A judge will decide whether to impose the death sentence on Alton Nolen, 33, for the September 2014 attack at Vaughan Foods in Moore. Nolen had been fired from the plant moments before going on a rampage with a knife.
Police said he stabbed and then severed the head of 54-year-old Colleen Hufford and attacked then 43-year-old Traci Johnson before being shot by Mark Vaughan, the company’s chief operating officer who is also a sheriff’s deputy.
Nolen’s trial had been delayed to determine if he was mentally competent to face the murder charge before a jury.
At a 2015 court hearing, a psychologist who examined Nolen said he suffered from minor mental retardation and wanted to be executed.
Oklahoma police said Nolen, a recent convert to Islam at the time of the attack, admitted to them that he felt compelled to kill his co-workers as a part of his religion.
Nolen was convicted in late September after the jury rejected his plea of insanity.
The Oklahoma newspaper reported from the court that Nolen’s attorneys asked jurors to show mercy for a man who suffered from mental illness, had lower intellectual functioning and a religious preoccupation that skewed his thinking.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by James Dalgleish