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Man charged with killing 10 at a Colorado grocery store asks to move case out of Boulder County

Following mental competency restoration, a man suspected of killing 10 people at a Boulder King Soopers in 2021 is scheduled to face trial in September.

BOULDER (CN) — A man charged with killing 10 at a Boulder King Soopers in 2021 asked a Colorado judge on Tuesday to move his trial to another county, citing concerns about assembling an impartial jury.

On March 22, 2021, prosecutors say Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa opened fire on the King Soopers grocery store in the Table Mesa neighborhood of Boulder with a Ruger AR-556 assault-style weapon and a semiautomatic handgun.

The victims, aged 20 to 65 years old, included three King Soopers employees, six shoppers and a police officer.

In asking for the trial to be moved out of Boulder County, public defender Sam Dunn emphasized the impact the attack had on the community, from which he doubted an unbiased jury could be assembled.

“Let’s not talk about it in a sanitized way,” Dunn argued. “We’re talking about a mass shooting in a community that had never experienced one before, and we’re talking about it, sadly, in a country where mass shootings happen with far more frequency than we would hope, and so there are people with strong opinions.”

In addition to widespread news coverage of the mass murder and community posts on social media, Dunn pointed to government-sponsored victim services and memorials as potentially prejudicing jurors.

“Even if people avoid traditional media and aren’t active online, they’re still aware of the community-wide impact of the shooting,” Dunn argued. “Is the court really going to ask a community that is still healing to make a measured decision on the evidence and not any other factors? That seems like an impossible task.”

First Assistant District Attorney Ken Kupfner countered that if a fair trial couldn’t be held in Boulder, then a fair trial couldn’t be held anywhere.

“The people are confident that this court can, and will, take the precautions necessary to ensure the defendant gets a fair trial in Boulder County,” Kupfner said in a brief response.

Chief Judge Ingrid Bakke of the Twentieth Judicial District took the request under advisement along with a motion to close jury selection to the public.

“My number one goal is to get the case to trial, and get it tried in a way that it won’t come back,” Bakke said. “I want it done right.”

Bakke was appointed by Democratic governor Bill Ritter.

Alissa, 25, appeared at the defense table, wearing an orange and white striped jumpsuit, a bushy beard and thick black glasses. Last November, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 10 counts of first-degree murder and dozens of counts of attempted murder.

A trial has been delayed several years since Alissa was found mentally incompetent in December 2021. Following treatment at the state mental health hospital in Pueblo, including court-ordered medication, Bakke found Alissa restored to competency. A second evaluation ordered by the defense is underway.

Sporting orange visor shades, Robert Olds, 51, spoke to press outside the Boulder County Justice Center. His 25-year-old niece, Rikki, is one of 10 who lost her life at the King Soopers.

“A change of venue wasn’t allowed for the Aurora Theater shooter, so this case should stay in this community,” Olds said. “We have heard for the last three years about this murderer’s rights, but what about the victims' rights? They had none. Ten people were executed with no judge, no jury.”

The victims include Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, 51; Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.

Jury selection for the trial is scheduled to begin after Labor Day.

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Categories / Criminal, Regional, Trials

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