BOULDER (CN) — More than two years ago a man in a tactical vest shot and killed 10 people at grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. After being charged with 10 counts of first degree murder, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, of Arvada, was found mentally incompetent to stand trial and transferred from the Boulder County Jail to the state mental hospital in Pueblo.
After forcibly medicating Alissa, the state mental hospital on Tuesday presented the court with an evaluation finding Alissa competent.
Public defender Katherine Herold urged the court to order a new evaluation before moving forward.
“I believe he is still incompetent to proceed," Herold said, "and Mr. Alissa has due process rights to be competent to be prosecuted.”
Twentieth Judicial District Attorney Micheal Dougherty meanwhile asked the court to move forward out of respect of the victims.
“When you look out at the audience, and from your experience, you see the outrage and frustration and pure exhaustion the victims experience,” Dougherty said.
“I want to highlight that the delays this year have been incredibly frustrating for them. Obviously the issues are consistent with other cases throughout this court, but to the victims, this is the most important case in the world.”
Dougherty argued the hospital's finding of competency should not come as a surprise.
“Reading the defendant’s motion filed this morning, it is almost as though this competency finding comes like a lightning bolt," Dougherty said, "but the court knows from reading the reports that this has been slowly building over time.”
Twentieth Judicial District Judge Ingrid Bakke, who was appointed by Democratic Governor Bill Ritter, said that although the situation seemed unique, she was ready to let Alissa proceed to a full competency hearing.
“We’ve been in a posture of having a restoration hearing since spring, up until there was that stipulated motion for a continuance, so it is my assumption that both parties were prepared for a hearing, had experts lined up, that’s a unique postering,” Bakke said.
Therefore Bakke denied the defense's motion for a new evaluation and ordered a three-day hearing to be scheduled within 35 days.
Both Dougherty and Herold asked that Alissa remain at the state mental hospital. Bakke agreed since the court had not yet determined his competency status.
“He is not found competent until I say so,” Bakke confirmed.
On March 22, 2021, then-21-year-old Alissa opened fire on the King Soopers in the Table Mesa neighborhood of Boulder, prosecutors say, with a Ruger AR-556 assault-style weapon and a semiautomatic handgun.
Prosecutors charged Alissa with 10 counts of first degree murder and more than 30 counts of attempted murder. If convicted, Alissa faces life in prison without parole, since Colorado lawmakers repealed the death penalty in 2020.
The victims, who were between 20 and 65 years old, included three King Soopers employees, several shoppers and a police officer.
Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, 51, had been with the police department since 2010 and was father to seven kids.
Authorities identified the other nine victims as 20-year-old Denny Stong; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.Follow @bright_lamp
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.