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Defense calls second psychologist

Norman Transcript - 9/27/2017

Sept. 27--NORMAN -- A second psychologist called by Alton Nolen's defense team testified Tuesday that it's possible Nolen's alleged mental illness started when he left home and had to fend for himself.

"Nolen had never been out on his own. He isolated himself. He wasn't well liked and everything started to spin out of control," Tulsa psychologist Anita Jeanne Russell said. "He progressively declined and he continues to get sicker."

Russell is the second psychologist to testify this week to aid in defense, which is seeking a not guilty verdict by reason of insanity. Russell, like Texas psychologist Antoinette McGarrahan, who also testified, determined Nolen was mentally ill at the time of the offense.

"Nolen suffered from not being able to understand the wrongfulness of his actions," Russell said. "I found him to be extremely delusional."

Nolen, 33, graduated in 2003 from Idabel High School and later attended college, where he received "A" grades in two classes before dropping out. Russell said he subsequently moved away from home and worked low-skill jobs.

Nolen is charged with beheading former Vaughan Foods coworker Colleen Hufford and attempting to behead another on Sept. 25, 2014, after he was suspended from his production line job.

Since the attack, Nolen, a Muslim convert, has been adamant about pleading guilty and receiving the death penalty.

"I'm not dumb, I do not have a mental illness. I'm pleading guilty and I want the death penalty," Nolen said during a hearing in 2016. "I'm not here to talk about the situation; I'm here to make a plea. I'm being held captive by people who do not believe in the one true God."

Russell said when she first evaluated Nolen in 2015, he was cooperative, but that changed when she returned to talk to him in May.

"He didn't want to talk to me at all," she said. "In 2015, he made it clear what he wanted (the death penalty), and he saw me as a way to get it."

The way Nolen acted toward Russell when she visited him in May is similar to the way he has been behaving during court proceedings the last few months.

With his head down, eyes closed and ears covered, Nolen agrees to appear before the court each day, but his cooperation with defense counsel continues to be nonexistent.

Russell's testimony continues today.

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(c)2017 The Norman Transcript (Norman, Okla.)

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