A court determined that the man accused of murdering ten people at a Colorado supermarket earlier this year is mentally unfit to stand trial and ordered that he be treated at the state mental institution until he is fit to stand trial.
In March, a police officer, consumers, and several store employees were killed when Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 22, opened fire at a popular King Soopers in the college town of Boulder.
Four physicians have ruled that Alissa is not mentally fit to engage in court hearings as of Friday, and that he has 'deteriorated' while in custody, according to District Attorney Michael Dougherty.
Given the consensus, Dougherty requested that Judge Ingrid Bakke send Alissa to the state mental hospital in hopes that medication and treatment will enable him to understand legal proceedings and work with his lawyers to defend himself.
'I'm 100% confident that the day will come that he's held fully responsible for what he did on March 22,' Dougherty said after the hearing.
Dougherty did not say why the experts believed Alissa was incompetent, and the paper detailing the evaluation's findings is only available to attorneys and the judge.
Alissa's lawyer, Kathryn Herold, claimed Friday that her client suffers from a "severe" mental disorder but could not elaborate. She also agreed that he should be committed to Pueblo's Colorado Mental Health Institute.
Almost all procedures in the lawsuit have been halted indefinitely as a result of the verdict.
Alissa's next court appearance isn't until March 15, over a year after the incident, to examine whether any progress has been made.
If physicians decide he has regained competency, he might return sooner, according to Dougherty. The hospital will provide prosecutors with monthly reports on his status.
Alissa faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and more than 20 counts of attempted murder, among a slew of other charges related to shooting at the King Soopers.
Robert Olds, whose niece Rikki Olds, the supermarket's front-end manager, was murdered in the shooting, said he was disappointed by the new postponement, which has pushed back the day when his family would be able to truly grieve by seeing Alissa put on trial. However, he tries not to get too irritated by the sluggish speed of the court system in order to prevent being'revictimized' by Alissa, he added.
Despite this, Olds stated that Alissa appeared competent during his most recent court appearance, when he answered the judge's questions.
'He's incompetent to stand trial, but on the day he did all of this he was pretty dang competent in his actions and everything else,' Olds said.
An earlier court-ordered evaluation completed on October 1 found Alissa was not mentally competent, but prosecutors asked for a second evaluation to be conducted with an expert of their choosing, the latest to find him incompetent.
Dougherty said he was ruled unfit in a previous review by a defense expert.
While none of those reports are available to the public, court documents related to Alissa's October 1 examination revealed some details about her health.
According to a prosecution motion, Alissa was provisionally diagnosed with an unspecified mental health condition that limits his ability to'meaningfully converse with others,' and he gave "superficial responses" to questions about hypothetical legal situations, indicating a "passive approach to his defense" and a "potential overreliance on his attorneys."
Meanwhile, the defense challenged the prosecution's earlier argument that Alissa understood the legal process, claiming that he was preoccupied on the threat of the death penalty despite Colorado's repeal.
The prosecution of a man accused of killing three people in a 2015 attack on a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs has also been postponed due to competency difficulties.
In his state case, Robert Dear was repeatedly declared unable to proceed. In 2019, federal prosecutors prosecuted him, but the case in federal court has been delayed due to the competence question.
Competency is not the same as a not guilty by reason of insanity plea, which focuses on whether someone's mental state prevented them from understanding right from wrong at the time of the offense.