Boulder Judge scolds state health official in King Soopers case

Supermarket Shooting Gun Measures
Tributes hang on the temporary fence surrounding the parking lot in front of a King Soopers grocery store in which 10 people died in a late March mass shooting, Friday, April 9, 2021, in Boulder, Colo. The Board of Commissioners of Boulder County, Colo., gave initial approval on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, to new county-wide gun control ordinances that would exceed both state and federal regulations. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

A Boulder judge on Friday scolded a state official and ordered the state mental health hospital officials working with the man accused of killing 10 people at a grocery store to give reports every two weeks on how the insanity evaluations are going at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo. 

In November, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity for the mass shooting at the south Boulder King Soopers on March 22, 2021. 

State prosecutors are moving ahead with an August trial in Boulder, and Boulder’s Chief Judge Ingrid Bakke had  ordered people treating him at the state’s mental health hospital to furnish an insanity report by this week to prosecutors and defense attorneys. 

But, in a filing on Monday, state health officials apologized and said they were behind and asked for several more months to get it done. 

Alissa, 24, is staying at the state’s mental health hospital where he is being forcibly medicated for schizophrenia and psychosis and treated by doctors. 

On Friday, Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty said the multiple delays are unacceptable to the many victims in the case. 

Ten people, including a Boulder police officer, were gunned down at the grocery store. 

“They’re incredibly frustrated,” he told Bakke. 

Public defender Kathryn Herold, who represents Alissa, said her interest was in his due process and she wanted a report that was thorough and good —  not one “rushed together” because of prosecutors. 

“Yes, this case has been taking a long time but that’s due to Mr. Alissa’s mental illness,” she told the judge. “There are hundreds of thousands of records surrounding his mental illness. At the end of the day it’s having a report we can rely on that isn’t rushed.”

Ann Pogue, an attorney and representative at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, told the judge that the case was a priority for the staff there.

“The department does want to acknowledge the seriousness of this case, the number of victims we have in the courtroom and empathize with what is happening here,” she told Bakke. “It is the department’s utmost importance that we move as efficiently as possible.”

Pogue said that they needed to interview several collateral witnesses, including Alissa’s six siblings and his parents, and they needed a translator to help with some of those interviews. 

They also needed to do multiple and ongoing evaluations of Alissa himself, who remains in custody at the hospital.

Bakke told her that more information about how things are going is better, and she wanted reports every two weeks on the status of Alissa’s continuing evaluations.

Bakke also said she wanted the insanity evaluation by the end of April, with the trial still scheduled for later this summer. 

The next court appearance is a motions hearing in June and the trial is set for the beginning of August in Boulder.