BOULDER, Colo. (KRDO) -- The families of the ten people murdered in March's King Soopers mass shooting will have to wait longer to see a trial for the accused shooter. A judge in Boulder County allowed a delay to give the accused shooter more time to undergo a mental competency evaluation.
During one of Ahmad Alissa's first court appearances back in March, his defense counsel waived his right to a speedy trial to give them time to determine the "nature and depth" of his "mental illness." Less than a week before the preliminary hearing was set to begin, his counsel raised the issue of his mental competency again, asking for the preliminary trial to be delayed.
In a motion filed to the court, District Attorney Michael Dougherty expressed concern about how late the defense decided to bring up the issue of the defendant's competency, calling it "troublesome." The motion went on to detail how the DA's office assumed the defense would "make a good faith effort" to decide the defendant's competency "in a timely fashion." The motion asked Judge Ingrid Bakke to keep the original preliminary hearing date set for September 7, 2021, also citing that many of the victims' families planned to travel across the state or country to be present for this hearing.
Another motion filed revealed that the defendant's counsel has a "good faith belief" that he is not competent to proceed to trial, following months of interviews and data gathering to allow a mental health professional to make a determination. The defense said in their motion that it would be "completely inappropriate and ineffective to rush or truncate this process" in response to the DA's office raising concerns about timing.
Ultimately, Judge Bakke decided to convert the preliminary hearing to a Hearing on Advisement where she ordered the defendant to undergo a mental health evaluation within 21 days. An order issued by the court detailed that the judge felt that if competency was not determined prior to the preliminary hearing, the trial could see further delays.
The Colorado Department of Human Services now has 21 days to conduct a mental competency evaluation. The defendant requested to undergo the evaluation at Pueblo's Colorado Mental Health Institute, but the court denied that requested and ordered he receive his evaluation at the Boulder County Jail.
The preliminary hearing is now set to take place on October 19, 2021.