Boulder King Soopers shooting suspect still not competent to stand trial

The suspect in the Boulder King Soopers grocery store shooting that killed 10 people last year is still not mentally competent to stand trial, authorities said Thursday.

Ahmad Alissa, 23, is accused of killing 10 people at the grocery store on March 22, 2021. He faces more than 100 charges, including 10 counts of first-degree murder, but the criminal case against him has been stalled for months as he has been repeatedly found mentally unable to comprehend the proceedings.

In a brief hearing Thursday, 20th Judicial District Chief Judge Ingrid Bakke ordered that Alissa return to court Oct. 21 for another review. Alissa will continue to undergo treatment at a state hospital to attempt to restore him to mental competency and allow the court case to proceed.

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty told reporters Thursday that Alissa is “making progress.”

“(The state hospital) found him incompetent to proceed, but he’s continuing to make progress in his treatment, he is continuing to improve,” he said.

A competency evaluation considers whether a criminal defendant is mentally ill or developmentally disabled, and whether that mental illness impedes the defendant’s ability to understand the court process. Competency refers only to a defendant’s current mental capacity and is distinct from an insanity defense, which focuses on the defendant’s mental state at the time of the alleged crime.

Many defendants who are initially deemed incompetent receive treatment and are restored to competency within six months. Some cases stall indefinitely, like the case against the man charged with killing three people at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic in 2015, who consistently has been found incompetent to proceed since early 2016.

Alissa was first found to be incompetent in December, and was again found incompetent in April despite undergoing treatment.

Dougherty met with victims of the attack after Thursday’s hearing and said they are “incredibly frustrated by the delay,” in the case.

“It’s over a year,” he said. “We can explain to them that this is how the process works, but at the end of the day they suffered a tragic and immense loss and I don’t expect them to fully understand or accept how this court process works.”

Alissa is scheduled to return to court at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 21,

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