Boulder DA requests competency hearing in King Soopers shooting case

The Boulder County District Attorney’s Office has asked a judge to set the defendant in the King Soopers shooting for a competency hearing, citing concerns over his refusal to participate in treatment.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 23, is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder, 47 counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of first-degree assault, 10 counts of felony possession of a prohibited large capacity magazine, and 47 crime of violence sentence enhancers.

Alissa was declared incompetent to proceed in December 2021, and has been undergoing treatment ever since at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo.

But prosecutors have continually expressed concern that Alissa was feigning symptoms, and requested a forensic psychological exam.

Boulder Chief Judge Ingrid Bakke ruled such an exam could only be ordered by the state hospital, and court documents released Tuesday indicated doctors determined such an examination was not necessary.

But prosecutors have now asked for a competency hearing, raising the same concerns about Alissa’s symptoms, his refusal to accept treatment and the state hospital’s ability to treat him.

Doctors have said Alissa may suffer from schizophrenia, but in a motion prosecutors wrote that doctors “candidly acknowledged on Nov. 14, 2022, that there is a possibility that defendant’s lack of communication and participation in the restoration process could be volitional and not a product of his schizophrenia diagnosis, but they circumstantially ‘believe’ this is not the case.”

Prosecutors in the motion said updates from the state hospital indicate Alissa, “has repeatedly declined to attend group sessions, including programming specifically aimed at improving his functional abilities, and he has repeatedly failed to fully comply with the restoration process.”

The motion noted “there is an incentive for criminal defendants to feign or exaggerate symptoms in the context of competency evaluations and treatment.”

“CMHIP has not conducted any standardized, formal testing of Defendant to determine if defendant is unable to communicate about his case and comply with the restoration process because of a mental health disorder or because he is making a choice to remain noncompliant and not fully engaged,” the motion read.

Prosecutors also brought up issues with staffing and wait times at the state hospital in questioning their decision not to further investigate the true nature of Alissa’s symptoms.

“These issues are relevant to the extent that they call into question the current capacity for treatment at CMHIP, as reflected in the failures to respond to the People, the inability and refusal to conduct the additional exam, and their diagnosis in this case and others in this jurisdiction,” the motion read.

Defense attorneys objected to a hearing, noting that Bakke said prosecutors must have a “good faith” reason for requesting a hearing.

“Mr. Alissa’s treatment team at CMHIP and its competency evaluators continue to opine that he is incompetent to proceed to trial,” the defense motion read. “No treatment professional has opined otherwise. The State identified no evidence suggesting Mr. Alissa is competent.

“More important, the State does not specifically allege Mr. Alissa is competent. Rather, the State again presents argument that CMHIP restoration is ineffectual and that Mr. Alissa ‘could be feigning symptoms,’ his ‘symptomology could be unrelated’ to schizophrenia, and he might therefore be competent… These beliefs are based on conjecture and, in any event, are not evidence Mr. Alissa is competent.”

Bakke has not yet issued a ruling on the motions. Alissa for now is set for a review hearing on April 28.

According to an arrest affidavit, police were called to the King Soopers at 3600 Table Mesa Drive at 2:40 p.m. March 22, 2021, for a report of an armed man who had shot a person in a vehicle in the store’s parking lot and was inside the store.

Eric Talley, a 51-year-old Boulder police officer, was the first to arrive on scene and was shot and killed. Police said Alissa fired at other responding officers before one of the responding officers shot Alissa in the leg.

Alissa later surrendered to police. Police found weapons and tactical body armor at the scene, according to the affidavit.

In addition to Talley, 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, were killed in the shooting.

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