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Prosecutors criticize quick release from prison of Moore suspect

Sep 28, 2014 | by Lynn Powell

It only takes one to ruin it for thousands of others.

The suspect in the gruesome beheading at a Moore food processing plant should have been in prison longer, prosecutors say.


Alton Alexander Nolen, 30, served less than two years of a six-year prison sentence for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, prosecutors say.

“Our intent was to incarcerate him much longer than a year and 11 months,” Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said Friday.


“This case perfectly illustrates the problem with the Department of Corrections. If it’s not an 85 percent crime, we have no idea how long a person will actually spend in prison,” Prater said.


Nolen, a Muslim convert who went by the name Jah’Keem Yisrael on Facebook, is accused of beheading one co-worker and slashing another with a knife Thursday afternoon at Vaughan Foods. Police said he became angry after being fired.


He was stopped when the company’s chief operating officer shot him, police said. Nolen was hospitalized and is expected to recover.


“Im Not Your Friend My Friends Are At The Mosque All Around The World,” he wrote on his Facebook page, which includes a photo of a beheading.


About his prior convictions


Nolen went to prison March 10, 2011, to start a two-year sentence for marijuana possession and another two-year sentence for assaulting a highway patrol trooper, records show.


He began his six-year sentence for cocaine possession April 26, 2011, records show. Because of plea agreements with prosecutors, he was allowed to serve the three prison sentences at the same time.


He was released on March 22, 2013, records show. Because of credits, he was able to complete all three prison sentences in just two years.


“It’s frustrating,” Prater said.


His marijuana and assault convictions were in Logan County. His cocaine conviction was in Oklahoma County.


The cocaine case arose out of a traffic stop in Oklahoma City in 2006. He initially was put on probation after pleading guilty. Prosecutors in 2007 sought to revoke his probation after he disappeared from his home in Idabel without notice. Oklahoma County District Judge Glenn Jones revoked the probation in April 2011 and ordered the six-year term.


Prison records show Nolen was given credit for time spent in jail before prison, good conduct, a transition program and other reasons. One month, he got 151 days total off his time to do, the records show.


Corrections Department spokesman Jerry Massie said corrections officials did not make a mistake. He said Nolen was released after two years because of the credit system which is set by state statute.


“He got out according to all the rules that apply to him,” Massie said. “You have 85 percent crimes to try to deal with people who are the biggest risks. The statutes allow for certain offenders to process through the system fairly quickly.”


Under Oklahoma law, an offender convicted of a violent crime must serve 85 percent of his prison sentence before he is eligible to get credits or be considered for parole. That does not apply to nonviolent crimes.


Nolen likely will be charged Monday in Cleveland County District Court.


Moore police Sgt. Jeremy Lewis said officers interviewed Nolen Friday after he regained consciousness in the hospital. Nolen could be transferred to jail sometime early this week, Lewis said Saturday.


Killed was Colleen Hufford, 54, who a year ago lost her home in the Moore tornado. Injured was Traci Johnson, 43, of Oklahoma City.


Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said Nolen’s quick release from prison came because his drug crime was considered a nonviolent offense. He said reforms are needed so that truly violent inmates are held longer, even for nonviolent crimes.


“You’d think there would be, maybe, some sort of screening process or something that could have identified some of these issues while he was there,” Mashburn said. “Maybe it wouldn’t have caught it. Maybe it would have. Clearly, he needed to be in prison.


“We got to figure out a way to fix that instead of just figuring out a way to get to revolve the door in our prison system,” Mashburn said. “Everybody just wants to scream, ‘Well, if it’s a nonviolent offense, we’ll let them out.’ This is the perfect case to show that that’s not the answer. … There’s more to it than that.”

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Contributing: Staff Writer Silas Allen