The man believed to be responsible for the tragic massacre that took the lives of ten people in a Boulder, Colorado, grocery store in 2021, has now been declared competent to stand trial, according to a ruling delivered by a judge on Friday. The accused will stay in confined custody at a state hospital to guarantee that he continues to take his prescribed medication, thereby preserving his competence.
Accused gunman Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa has been charged with the ruthless attack that occurred on March 22, 2021, at a King Soopers grocery store, causing the deaths of 10 people, which included both a dedicated store manager and a valiant police officer. Alissa now finds himself facing a staggering total of 54 charges, with these encompassing ten murder charges as well as one charge of attempted murder.
Initially, in December 2021, Colorado District Judge Ingrid Bakke ruled that Alissa was not fit to stand trial. This initial judgment came after a careful evaluation by a defense expert, two state hospital doctors, and another doctor chosen by the prosecution team. The doctors reached a consensus that Alissa’s mental condition deteriorated while under confinement at the Boulder County Jail. Consequently, Alissa was sent to the state hospital for treatment.
In a significant turn of events on Friday, the judge reinstated Alissa’s competency after careful consideration of his current state. Although Alissa has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, the judge noted that his condition does not deprive him of the ability to stand trial as he is not plagued by delusions that could potentially interfere with the proceedings.
While the court does not possess the power to insist that Alissa stays at the Colorado Mental Health Institute (CMHI) in Pueblo after being found competent, Judge Bakke strongly urged the state hospital to retain him due to the severity of the case at hand. Shortly after the judge’s plea, the CMHI agreed to hold Alissa in their custody as they believed it necessary while his case is ongoing.
The District Attorney, Michael Dougherty, voiced his satisfaction with the court’s decision, stating that this move instills hope in the hearts of the victims’ families, encouraging them to believe that justice will be served.
The judges’ order discloses that Alissa has struggled with impoverished speech and thought patterns since his admission to the CMHI. However, Alissa’s condition improved dramatically after starting to take court-ordered medication, prompting the judge to note that this marked a significant ‘turning point’ in his restoration to competency.
Despite ongoing concerns about Alissa’s current mental state, the judge has acknowledged his significant improvement based on hospital reports. Dougherty agreed, stating that under the circumstances, the state hospital is better equipped for care, medication, and treatment than the Boulder County Jail.
However, Alissa’s attorney argued that despite these improvements, Alissa lacks a substantial attention span and cannot wholly comprehend court proceedings. The judge agreed that while there have been improvements, Alissa’s competency remains delicately balanced and is dependent on his continued medication.
A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for November 14, where the prosecution will present evidence and testimonials to prove Alissa’s competence to stand trial.