DENVER (AP) — The mental competency of a man charged with killing 10 people at a Colorado supermarket nearly two years ago is set to be discussed again during a hearing Friday as a judge considers whether he can move ahead toward a trial.
Court proceedings against Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 23, have been paused for more than a year after Judge Ingrid Bakke found him to be mentally incompetent to continue in December 2021 and sent him to the state mental hospital for treatment.
Brief hearings are held periodically to check in on whether doctors believe Alissa is mentally competent, meaning he is able to understand legal proceedings and work with his lawyers to defend himself.
Alissa is accused of opening fire outside and inside a King Soopers store in the college town of Boulder in March 2021, killing customers, workers and a police officer who rushed in to try to stop the attack. Alissa, who lived in the nearby suburb of Arvada, surrendered after another officer shot and wounded him, authorities said.
Investigators have not revealed a possible motive. They said Alissa passed a background check to legally buy a Ruger AR-556 pistol, which resembles an AR-15 rifle with a slightly shorter stock, six days before the shooting.
Alissa is charged with murder and multiple attempted murder counts for endangering the lives of 26 other people.
Alissa’s lawyers have not commented about the allegations. He has not been asked yet to enter a plea.
Concerns about Alissa’s mental health were raised by his defense immediately after the shooting, but details about his condition have not been made public.
Court documents addressing one of his evaluations in 2021 said he was provisionally diagnosed with an unspecified mental health condition limiting his ability to “meaningfully converse with others.”
Competency is a different legal issue than a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, which involves whether someone’s mental health prevented them from understanding right from wrong when a crime was committed.