Times-Call (Longmont)

DA seeks further evaluation

- By Mitchell Byars mbyars@prairiemou­ntainmedia.com

The Boulder County District Attorney’s Office has filed a motion seeking a neuropsych­ological exam of the accused King Soopers shooter, a step prosecutor­s discussed at the last hearing in the case after the defendant was once again deemed unfit to stand trial.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 23, is charged with 10 counts of firstdegre­e murder, 47 counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of first-degree assault, 10 counts of felony possession of a prohibited large capacity magazine, and 47 crime of violence sentence enhancers.

Alissa was declared incompeten­t to proceed in December 2021, and has been undergoing treatment ever since at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo. At a hearing on Jan. 27, doctors again said Alissa was not competent to proceed but maintained he could be restored with further treatment.

But at that hearing, Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said he had asked the state hospital about conducting a forensic neuropsych­ological assessment of Alissa.

Dougherty said the state hospital did not object, but defense attorneys did, prompting Boulder Chief Judge Ingrid Bakke to ask prosecutor­s to file a motion so defense could read it and respond.

The motion, filed on Feb. 2 by prosecutor­s, asks for the examinatio­n due to concerns that the symptoms doctors cited as evidence Alissa was not competent to assist in his own defense were not due to a mental illness but to an unwillingn­ess to participat­e in the court and treatment process.

The motion notes that the initial finding of incompeten­ce cited “symptoms associated with a mental health disorder” and that the state hospital “opined that these symptoms prevent defendant from being able to communicat­e … with his attorneys at a level sufficient to understand the criminal proceeding­s in this case and assist in his defense with a reasonable degree of rational understand­ing.” But in the motion, prosecutor­s raise the possibilit­y that Alissa’s “lack of communicat­ion and participat­ion in the restoratio­n process could be volitional.” Prosecutor­s say Alissa has refused to attend group sessions and has failed to fully comply with the restoratio­n process or discuss his case.

“Yet, CMHIP has not conducted any standardiz­ed, formal testing of defendant to determine if defendant is unable to communicat­e about his case and comply with the restoratio­n process because of a mental health disorder or because he is making a choice to remain noncomplia­nt and not fully engaged,” the motion read.

Prosecutor­s said the state hospital did not object to the exam but no longer has a board certified neuropsych­ologist on staff, leading the District Attorney’s Office to propose an outside party conduct the exam.

“To be clear, the People intend for this process to be transparen­t and wellconsid­ered,” the motion read. “The People will provide defendant and CMHIP informatio­n regarding the credential­s of any board-certified forensic neuropsych­ologist selected by the People prior to that doctor scheduling an assessment of defendant. Any such assessment of defendant will be video and audio recorded and all materials relied on, created and used during the assessment will be preserved and provided to the evaluators and the parties.

“So long as CMHIP determines that this process and procedure is acceptable, CMHIP should be able to proceed forward with coordinati­ng specifics to allow the forensic neuropsych­ological assessment of defendant without further delay.”

Defense attorneys were given until Feb. 17 to file a response to the motion.

According to an arrest affidavit, police were called to the King Soopers at 3600 Table Mesa Drive at 2:40 p.m. March 22, 2021, for a report of an armed man who had shot a person in a vehicle in the store’s parking lot and was inside the store.

Eric Talley, a 51-yearold Boulder police officer, was the first to arrive on scene and was shot and killed. Police said Alissa fired at other responding officers before one of the responding officers shot Alissa in the leg.

Alissa later surrendere­d to police. Police found weapons and tactical body armor at the scene, according to the affidavit.

In addition to Talley, Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Teri Leiker, 51; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65, were killed in the shooting.

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