Colorado supermarket killings suspect can’t go to trial yet

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — A man charged with killing 10 people at a Colorado supermarket last year is still incompetent to stand trial, a judge ruled Friday, keeping his prosecution on hold.

Court proceedings against Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 23, have been paused since December, when a judge first found him to be mentally incompetent. The rulings mean he is unable to understand legal proceedings or work with his lawyers to defend himself.

Alissa remains at the state mental hospital, where he is receiving treatment, and was not in the Boulder courtroom Friday.

Relatives of those killed sat in the courtroom for the brief hearing while others watched online. District Court Judge Ingrid Bakke said Alissa’s latest evaluation on Oct. 10 showed he that there was a substantial probability that he could be treated to be made competent in the “forseeable future,” echoing an outlook she first shared in March.

When District Attorney Michael Dougherty said the victims’ families were frustrated with the state hospital and the doctors there, Bakke expressed sympathy, noting that there was not much either the defense or prosecution could do as Alissa underwent treatment.

“It understandably is a very frustrating process,” said Bakke, who set another hearing to review Alissa’s condition for Jan. 27.

Alissa is accused of opening fire outside and inside a King Soopers store on March 2021 in the college town of Boulder. He killed customers, workers and a police officer who tried to stop the attack. Alissa surrendered after another officer shot and wounded him, according to authorities.

Investigators have not made public information about why they believe Alissa carried out the attack.

Robert Olds, the uncle of one of the 10 people killed, front-end manager Rikki Olds, said he tends to “build up a wall” before each review hearing to avoid getting his expectations and hopes up. But he said he would keep showing up in his quest to get justice for his niece.

The others killed in the attack were Denny Stong, Neven Stanisic, Tralona Bartkowiak, Teri Leiker, Suzanne Fountain, Kevin Mahoney, Lynn Murray, Jody Waters and Eric Talley, who rushed into the store with an initial team of police officers.

Alissa is charged with murder as well as 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.

Reports about his mental health evaluations have not been made public. But court documents that addressed one of them last year said he was provisionally diagnosed with an unspecified mental health condition limiting his ability to “meaningfully converse with others.”

After Friday’s hearing, Dougherty, who said his office has been receiving records on Alissa’s treatment, said he has at times shown improvement but declined to elaborate.

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.

Alissa lived in the nearby suburb of Arvada, where authorities say he passed a background check to legally buy the Ruger AR-556 pistol six days before authorities say he used it in the shooting.

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