The chief judge of Boulder’s District Court has ordered a second competence evaluation of the man accused of killing 10 people in March’s massacre at the south-side King Soopers in Boulder.
Prosecutors moved for another evaluation last week after a report by state experts found the suspect incompetent to stand trial.
Ahmad Alissa, 22, faces 115 charges and sentence enhancers in the supermarket massacre, including murder, first-degree murder and weapons counts.
An Oct. 5 filing said the first court-ordered competence evaluation of Alissa by the Department of Human Services, requested by his defense attorneys in September, showed he has an understanding of the charges against him, the potential sentence he faces, and the roles of the judge, prosecutor and defense attorney. A rational understanding of proceedings is key to whether a defendant is considered competent to stand trial.
But the doctors concluded Alissa was not competent to proceed based on a limited ability to “meaningfully converse with others” and “superficial responses to hypothetical legal situations indicate a passive approach to his defense and potential overreliance on his attorneys,” according to the Oct. 5 filing. Ability to participate in his own defense is the other key component of the defendant’s competence.
Chief Judge Ingrid Bakke granted the request for a new competence evaluation Wednesday, and ordered prosecutors and defense attorneys to agree on a list of four evaluators by Oct. 20, from which she will appoint one.
If Alissa is ultimately declared unfit to stand trial, he would undergo treatment with the goal of restoring him to competence.
The suspect’s defense attorneys objected to the request for a second evaluation, claiming prosecutors didn’t make it in good faith and their request misrepresents the competence report’s findings. The filing mentions as an example Alissa’s fixation on the death penalty even though it’s not a possibility, suggesting he doesn’t truly understand the potential sentence he faces.
Public defenders Daniel King, Kathryn Herold and Samuel Dunn represent the accused shooter.
In a response filed Monday, prosecutors said they were entitled to a second competence evaluation by law.
"The People have concerns regarding the reliability of the first evaluation produced by the Colorado Department of Human Services and the People will litigate Defendant’s competency at the to-be-scheduled hearing," said the filing signed by District Attorney Michael Dougherty and Chief Trial Deputy District Attorney Adam Kendall.
Bakke ordered the second competence report due within 35 days of the evaluator’s appointment.