Man accused of killing 10 at Colorado King Soopers is ruled mentally competent to stand trial


BOULDER, Colo. — A judge ruled Friday that the man accused of killing 10 people at a Colorado supermarket in a 2021 rampage is mentally competent to stand trial.

The decision allows the prosecution of Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa to move forward. Judge Ingrid Bakke ruled that Alissa, who has schizophrenia, is able to understand court proceedings and contribute to his own defense.

Bakke presided over a hearing last week to consider an August determination by experts at a state mental hospital that Alissa was competent after previous evaluations found otherwise. An attorney for Alissa asked for the hearing to debate the finding.

In her ruling, Bakke said she was convinced that, following forced medication, Alissa was more communicative and had a “far improved capacity to elucidate his reasoning and decision-making.” That’s a critical component of competency, which partly hinges on Alissa being able to make informed decisions in his own case, such as whether to testify himself.

Bakke noted that in the August evaluation, Alissa answered questions about the day of the shooting and the offenses alleged against him.

Alissa, 24, is charged with murder and multiple attempted murder counts after the shooting spree on March 22, 2021, in a crowded King Soopers Store in Boulder, about 30 miles northwest of Denver. Alissa has not yet been asked to enter a plea.

Alissa allegedly began firing outside the grocery store, shooting at least one person in the parking lot before moving inside, employees told investigators. Employees and customers scrambled to escape the violence, some leaving through loading docks in the back and others sheltering in nearby stores.

A SWAT team took Alissa into custody. Authorities haven’t yet disclosed a motive for the shooting.

Alissa is represented by public defenders, who do not comment to the media on their cases.

A forensic psychologist who evaluated him, Loandra Torres, testified at last week’s hearing that Alissa said that he bought firearms to commit a mass shooting. Torres said he also indicated “that there was some intention to commit suicide by cop.”

Alissa’s mental condition improved this spring after he was forced under a court order to take medication to treat his schizophrenia, said a psychologist who testified for the prosecution last week. He was admitted to the state hospital in December 2021.

Schizophrenia can shake someone’s grasp on reality, potentially interfering in a legal defense in court. Mental competency does not mean he’s been cured.

Mental competency is also separate from pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, which is a claim that someone’s mental health prevented them from understanding right from wrong when a crime was committed.

Now that Alissa has been deemed legally competent to participate in proceedings, Bakke is set to hold a Nov. 14 hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to a trial.

Bakke acknowledged that she could not order the state hospital to keep Alissa now that he has been deemed competent, but she urged officials to keep him there anyway since it has the ability to forcibly medicate him, unlike the jail.

She said Alissa has vowed to refuse to take his medicine if he is returned to the jail, noting that that happened when he was temporarily moved there for last week’s hearing.

Citing one expert who said Alissa could regress if he bounced back and forth between the jail and the hospital, which has struggled to keep up with demand for its services for years, Bakke said that outcome “would be an injustice to everyone who has been impacted by this case.” The hospital is about 140 miles from Boulder.

The remodeled King Soopers reopened last year. About half of those who worked there previously chose to return.


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