Ronnie Fuston—black, age 19
Sentenced in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma
By: a jury
Date of Crime: 10/20/12
Prosecution’s case/defense response: After receiving a life-without-parole sentence for a murder in another county, Fuston received a death sentence for killing another victim with the goal of gaining street credibility in a gang. During the guilt/innocence phase the defense contended that Fuston was not even present when the second murder was committed. In the penalty phase the defense presented evidence that Fuston came from an abusive home and was low-functioning.
Sources: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City) 6/10/17 (2017 WLNR 17890653)
Alton Nolen—black, age 30
Sentenced in Cleveland County, Oklahoma
By: a jury
Date of Crime: 9/25/14
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Nolen was a Muslim convert who believed he was being oppressed at work. He beheaded one co-worker with a kitchen knife and tried to behead another before being shot by another employee. Jurors rejected a mental retardation/intellectual disability argument. The defense also argued that Nolen was mentally ill, and that a religious preoccupation had skewed his thinking. The defense pointed out that he had been kind to animals as a child. Despite these defense claims, Nolen made it known to the jury that based on his religious beliefs, he desired a death sentence.
Sources: Oklahoman 10/12/17 (2017 WLNR 31794317), Norman Transcript 12/16/17 (2017 WLNR 38990984)