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Judge: Colorado supermarket shooting suspect unfit for trial

Supermarket Shooting
David Zalubowski
Associated Press
Tributes cover the temporary fence around the King Soopers grocery store in which 10 people died in a mass shooting in late March on Friday, April 23, 2021, in Boulder, Colo. A judge is scheduled to hold a hearing Friday, Jan. 27, 2023 to discuss whether a man charged with killing 10 people at a Colorado supermarket nearly two years ago is mentally competent to stand trial. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

A man charged with killing 10 people at a Colorado supermarket nearly two years ago remains mentally incompetent to stand trial, a judge said Friday.

Court proceedings against Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 23, have been paused for more than a year after Judge Ingrid Bakke first found him to be mentally incompetent in December 2021 and sent him to the state mental hospital for treatment.

During a brief hearing Friday in Boulder, Bakke said a new report from the hospital reached the same conclusion. Doctors added in the report that they still think Alissa has a "reasonable likelihood" of reaching competency, Bakke said.

She didn't elaborate about the report, which isn't publicly available. Concerns about Alissa's mental health were raised by his defense immediately after the March 2021 shooting, but details have not been made public.

Court documents addressing one of his evaluations in 2021 said he was provisionally diagnosed with an unspecified mental health condition limiting his ability to "meaningfully converse with others."

Alissa was not in the courtroom Friday. He is charged with murder and multiple attempted murder counts for endangering the lives of 26 other people. He has not been asked yet to enter a plea and his lawyers have not commented about the allegations.

These brief hearings are held periodically to check in on whether doctors believe Alissa can understand legal proceedings and work with his lawyers to defend himself. Competency is a different legal issue than a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, which involves whether someone's mental health prevented them from understanding right from wrong when a crime was committed.

Alissa is accused of opening fire outside and inside a King Soopers store in the college town of Boulder, killing customers, workers and a police officer who rushed in to try to stop the attack. Alissa, who lived in the nearby suburb of Arvada, surrendered after another officer shot and wounded him, authorities said.

Investigators have not revealed a possible motive. They said Alissa passed a background check to legally buy a Ruger AR-556 pistol six days before the shooting.