Was Alton Nolen mentally ill when he beheaded a female co-worker and tried to behead a second woman at a food plant in Oklahoma on Sept. 25, 2014, or was he simply being a good Muslim by following the dictates of the Quran?
That’s the issue the jury will have to decide in the 33-year-old Muslim convert’s trial, which opened last week and continued Monday in Norman, Oklahoma.
Nolen told police in 2014 he beheaded his co-worker, Colleen Hufford, and tried to behead another woman at the plant because he felt “oppressed” as a Muslim.
“You know all I was doing was … what I was supposed to do as a Muslim,” Nolen said. “It’s in the Quran.”
There were reports at after the incident that Nolen had tried to convert several of his co-workers to Islam and they were not receptive, which may have fueled his rage.
Nolen’s court-appointed attorneys are now asking the jury to find him not guilty by reason of insanity. They argued he is mentally ill and believed what he was doing was right because of “delusional misinterpretations of Islamic teachings,” according to the Oklahoman, a local newspaper covering the trial.
An expert witness took the stand Monday on behalf of the defense and told the jury that the Quran contains no instructions for Muslims kill unbelievers by beheading unless it is a time of war.
“It does not exist,” said Robert Hunt, a professor at Southern Methodist University who calls himself an expert on Islamic beliefs.
For Nolen to believe otherwise makes him insane, according to the defense.
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