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Colorado supermarket shooting suspect found not competent to stand trial

Prosecutors were granted a second evaluation of Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, accused of killing 10 people at a King Soopers in Boulder, over the objections of the defense.
Image: People who knew shooting victim Neven Stanisic comfort each other at a makeshift memorial outside a King Soopers grocery store on March 25, 2021 in Boulder, Colo.
People who knew shooting victim Neven Stanisic comfort each other at a makeshift memorial outside a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo., on March 25.Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images file

Psychologists evaluating the man accused of gunning down 10 people at a Colorado grocery store this year found he's not competent to stand trial, court documents revealed.

But Boulder County prosecutors asked for, and were granted, a second court-ordered evaluation after psychologists found that the suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, "is currently 'not competent to proceed' forward in this case," according to a filing by Adam Kendall, the chief trial deputy district attorney.

Prosecutors argued that they're entitled to another exam and that Alissa has shown "an understanding of his charges, the potential sentence, the roles of the judge, prosecutor and defense attorney," according to Kendall.

Ingrid Seftar Bakke, chief judge of the 20th Judicial District in Boulder County, granted the second evaluation Thursday over the objections of Alissa's defense team, which said the district attorney's request was "a single-minded tactic of trying an obviously incompetent defendant."

"As the prosecution's request for a second evaluation and its addendum show, it has no basis in fact or in law to believe Mr. Alissa is presently competent to proceed," wrote Daniel King, the chief trial deputy of the state public defender's office.

An attorney for Alissa could not be immediately reached for comment Monday.

Alissa is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and dozens of other offenses stemming from the mass shooting March 22 at a King Soopers in Boulder.

Alissa surrendered to police after the attack, in which 10 people died, including Eric Talley, the Boulder police officer who was the first to arrive on scene.

The others killed that day were Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Teri Leiker, 51; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.

University of Colorado law professor Aya Gruber said she wasn't surprised that by Bakke approved another evaluation because Alissa's competency is the only real issue.

"Competency doesn't come up every day. But where it does, and especially in a case like this, it absolutely will be challenged," Gruber said. "The competency determination will be appealed, it'll be re-evaluated."

Gruber, a former federal public defender, added: "There will be many bites at this apple until he's ruled competent to stand trial."

Colorado has been home to two of the most notable recent cases of defendant competency.

James Holmes, who killed 12 people in a darkened Aurora movie theater on July 20, 2012, was found competent to stand trial after a long legal battle.

Holmes was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing moviegoers who had gathered for a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."

Robert Lewis Dear Jr., who acknowledges killing three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic on Nov. 27, 2015, has been found mentally incompetent and remains in custody.