A Boulder judge ruled prosecutors can't use an expert they chose to conduct a neuropsychological evaluation on the accused King Soopers shooter.
They wanted the expert to help determine whether the suspect's lack of participation in mental health treatment is a conscious choice or a manifestation of symptoms of his illness.
In making that finding, Judge Ingrid Bakke ruled experts at the Mental Health Institute in Pueblo have sole authority to decide whether the man accused of the 2021 King Soopers mass shooting should undergo the evaluation.
Prosecutors made the request for a neuropsychological evaluation to the judge early in February, saying they needed to determine whether the accused shooter's apparent lack of participation in treatment to restore his fitness to stand trial is a choice not to comply, or a manifestation of mental illness symptoms. He has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, a filing by his defense attorneys last month revealed.
"The Court, the People, and Defense Counsel lack the authority to dictate the treatment of Defendant during his restoration treatment," Bakke wrote in an order Monday. "Therefore, the court orders that the People shall not bring in their own board certified forensic neuropsychological expert to perform a neuropsychological evaluation on Defendant."
Ahmad Alissa, now 23, is accused of killing 10 people on March 22, 2021 in the King Soopers on Table Mesa Drive. He faces 115 charges and sentence enhancers, including 10 charges of first-degree murder, 47 counts of attempted murder, one count of first-degree assault, 10 counts related to possessing banned high-capacity magazines and 47 sentence enhancers.
The state hospital had approved prosecutors' request to bring in their own expert for a neuropsychological evaluation. But defense attorneys objected, saying an evaluation done by an expert chosen by prosecutors would violate Alissa's constitutional rights. They also questioned the hospital's authority to approve prosecutors' request, according to Bakke's ruling.
In objecting to the evaluation request, defense attorneys said his severe symptoms limit his ability to interact, render him resistant to medication and make him unlikely to have the ability to participate in a neuropsychological evaluation.
Four experts have already found him unfit for trial: Two in his initial competence evaluation, one chosen by prosecutors and a fourth hired by the defense attorneys.
To be considered fit for trial, an accused person must have a rational understanding of the case against them and the ability to participate in their own defense. Alissa has undergone mental health treatment intended to restore his competence since the evaluations. Experts have indicated they believe Alissa can eventually be restored to competence.
Shooting victims included: 20-year-old Denny Stong, Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Teri Leiker, 51; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; Jody Waters, 65; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49, and Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley.