Alleged Boulder King Soopers shooter found incompetent to stand trial

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Flowers and messages, some spiritual and some political, at the makeshift memorial outside King Soopers on Boulder’s Table Mesa Drive, a week after a gunman opened fire in the store March 22, 2021, killing 10 people.

The man charged with killing 10 people at a Boulder King Soopers earlier this year has been declared incompetent to stand trial — and lawyers are awaiting a judge’s decision on whether he should get an additional evaluation.

The alleged shooter, 22-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, has a “fixation” about the death penalty, even though capitol punishment has been abolished in Colorado, court documents say.

Alissa also reportedly does not understand the role of the judge — he apparently told his competency evaluator that the judge would decide what happened to him, according to filings made by state public defenders representing him.

“Most importantly, nothing in the report suggests there is any basis to believe Mr. Alissa has a sufficient present ability to consult with counsel with a reasonable degree of rational understanding in order to assist in the defense,” public defenders wrote.

Alissa’s lawyers, Daniel King, Kathryn Herold and Sam Dunn, also wrote that Alissa is not making “rational” choices around representation.

“His aberrant behavior -- including such things as his wild accusations of collusion between his counsel and the prosecution, his questioning of his counsel’s integrity … his claim that he was inspired, his fatalism concerning God’s will,” according to a court filing, “provided ample grounds for any court to at least question his competency.”

Alissa remains in custody at the Boulder County Jail.

In the vast majority of incompetence cases in the criminal justice system, defendants are eventually “restored” through classes and medication to be able to understand the charges against them and help in their own defense.

Mental health competency restoration can happen in a few places across Colorado — including the Boulder and Arapahoe County jails and the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo.

The Colorado Department of Human Services, charged with mental health competency evaluation and restoration, also has a pilot program in the Denver Jail. 

It was unclear from court documents where Alissa’s restoration would take place. 

District Attorney Michael Dougherty and Chief Trial Deputy District Attorney Adam Kendall are asking for a second evaluation as well as additional documents around additional evidence evaluators used in making their first decision that Alissa is incompetent. 

That includes hospital records, school records from Jefferson and Denver counties and jail medical records.

Dougherty and Kendall argue that Alissa, in his competency evaluation, understood his charges, the potential sentence and the roles of the judge, prosecutor and defense attorney, according to court filings.

Prosecutors did acknowledge Alissa’s limits to “meaningfully converse with others.”