By Colleen Slevin, The Associated Press
BOULDER — The man charged with killing 10 people at a Boulder supermarket last year is still mentally incompetent to stand trial, 16 months after his arrest, according to findings from experts at the state mental hospital disclosed Thursday.
The update about the mental health of Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 23, was disclosed during a court hearing.
He is accused of opening fire outside and inside the King Soopers store on March 22, 2021 — killing customers, workers and a police officer who tried to stop the carnage. Alissa surrendered after another officer shot and wounded him, officials have said.
Court proceedings for Alissa had been on hold since December, when Judge Ingrid Bakke first ruled he was not competent to stand trial because he could not understand legal proceedings or work with his lawyers to defend himself. She sent him to the state mental hospital for treatment and he has been there ever since.
Bakke ruled again in April that Alissa was still mentally incompetent. But she said at the time that experts at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo thought there was a substantial probability that Alissa could be restored to competency and remain competent by taking medication.
The state hospital said in its latest report about Alissa that progress is being made in his treatment, said District Attorney Michael Dougherty.
Relatives of the shooting victims are understandably “incredibly frustrated” with the delay in prosecuting Alissa, Dougherty said.
Reports about his mental health evaluations have not been made public. But court documents that addressed one of them last year said he was provisionally diagnosed with an unspecified mental health condition limiting his ability to “meaningfully converse with others.”
Competency is a different legal issue than a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, which involves whether someone’s mental health prevented them from understanding right from wrong at the time a crime was committed.
Alissa’s lawyers have not commented about the allegations. He has not been asked yet to enter a plea.
Killed in the attack were Rikki Olds, Denny Stong, Neven Stanisic, Tralona Bartkowiak, Teri Leiker, Suzanne Fountain, Kevin Mahoney, Lynn Murray, Jody Waters and Eric Talley, who rushed into the store with an initial team of police officers.
Investigators have not made public information about why they believe Alissa allegedly launched the attack.
He lived in the nearby suburb of Arvada, where authorities say he passed a background check to legally buy the Ruger AR-556 pistol six days before the attack that authorities said was used in the shooting
Alissa is charged with murder in the deaths of the 10 people who died plus multiple attempted murder counts for endangering the lives of 26 other people — 15 civilians and 11 law enforcement officers.
Alissa’s mental health will next be the subject of another court hearing on Oct. 21, the judge said.