Accused Boulder King Soopers gunman ruled incompetent to stand trial

BOULDER, CO - MAY 25: Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa appears in a Boulder County District courtroom at...
BOULDER, CO - MAY 25: Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa appears in a Boulder County District courtroom at the Boulder County Justice Center on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. Alissa is suspected of shooting and killing 10 people at a King Soopers grocery store on Table Mesa Drive in Boulder on Monday, March 22. He is facing 47 total attempted murder charges after an additional 13 counts were added on Monday, May 24. (Matthew Jonas/Boulder Daily Camera, Pool)(Matthew Jonas | DC)
Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 11:02 AM MDT
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BOULDER, Colo. (KKTV) - Prosecutors in Boulder have requested a second competence evaluation for the man accused of killing 10 people in the March supermarket massacre, after a court-ordered report found him incompetent to stand trial.

An Oct. 5 filing says the competence evaluation of Ahmad Alissa, 22, ordered by Chief Judge Ingrid Bakke showed he has an understanding of the charges against him, the potential sentence he faces, and the roles of the judge, prosecutor and defense attorney, key to whether a defendant is considered competent to proceed.

But the doctors concluded Alissa is not competent to proceed based on a “limited” ability to “meaningfully converse with others” and “superficial responses to hypothetical legal situations indicate a passive approach to his defense and potential overreliance on his attorneys,” , according to the filing. Ability to participate in his own defense is the other key component of the defendant’s competence.

Alissa faces 115 charges and sentence enhancers — including first-degree murder, attempted murder and weapons counts — in connection with the fatal shootings of 10 people in Boulder’s southside King Soopers on March 22.

His defense attorneys signaled from his first court appearance that they believe he suffers from mental illness, and on Sept. 1 they filed a motion raising the issue of his competence.

If a final determination is made that the suspect is incompetent, he will undergo treatment intended to restore his ability to stand trial.

But Alissa’s defense attorneys have objected to the request for a second evaluation, arguing prosecutors didn’t make it in good faith and their request misrepresents the competence report’s findings.

“For example, the prosecution contends that Mr. Alissa understands the potential sentence, but the report indicates otherwise. The death penalty is not a potential sentence in this case, and the report reflects his fixation on that as a sentence,” wrote his public defenders in their objection filed Oct. 7.

Public defenders Daniel King, Kathryn Herold and Samuel Dunn represent Alissa.

The Colorado Supreme Court has found competence evaluations should be ordered based on need and not to gain tactical advantage, meaning entitlement to a second evaluation isn’t absolute, according to the suspect’s defense.

Bakke set a hearing for Thursday to review the first competence evaluation, and a probable cause hearing for Oct. 19. A spokesperson for District Attorney Michael Dougherty said in an email prosecutors are waiting to hear whether the judge will reset the upcoming hearings.

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