Shooter Accused in Colorado Grocery Store Massacre Found Incompetent to Stand Trial

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After a court-ordered competency hearing, psychologists found the 22-year-old shooter accused of slaughtering 10 people, including a police officer, in a grocery store last March, mentally incompetent to stand trial. Despite the defense’s objections, the judge has ordered a second evaluation of the suspect’s mental competency.

According to ABC News, on a Monday afternoon, March 22, 2021, the suspect allegedly entered the store and began firing at people. His victims’ ages ranged from 20 to 65, the Boulder Chief of Police Maris Herold told reporters. The suspect allegedly killed Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, 51, who was the first cop to arrive on the scene. The suspect reportedly shot him in the head.

CBS4 Denver said the prosecutors had charged the suspect with over 60 crimes, including first-degree murder. Prosecutors also charged him with attempted murder and related weapons and other charges. The horrific incident occurred in King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, some 28 miles northwest of Denver.

MSN News reported Colorado law requires judges to order a competency hearing to assess a suspect’s mental fitness to stand trial. The conclusion, presented by two court-appointed psychologists, found the suspect is aware of his legal predicament. The prosecution’s motion shows, “Defendant indicates an understanding of his charges, the potential sentence, the roles of the judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney.

However, the defense argued the suspect believes he could be executed if found guilty. The defense motion reads, “The death penalty is not a potential sentence in this case, and the report reflects his (Alissa’s) fixation on that as a sentence.” Colorado abolished their death penalty in 2020 by a 38-27 vote of the legislature, which the governor signed, affecting suspects charged after July 1, 2020.

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Though the court did not release the psychologists’ initial mental competency report, the results were included in the prosecutor’s motion for a second competency examination. But even if the second evaluation doesn’t alter the initial findings, that does not mean the suspect is off the hook.

The PsychLaw Journal explains that in Colorado, “Being found incompetent to stand trial does not mean a person will never face his charges. Incompetent to Stand Trial is not a legal defense like Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity is. It is a matter of legal fact that must be decided by the court.”

Since the shooting occurred, the suspect has been held and will continue to be incarcerated while the legal processes progress.


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Steve Pomper is an author, freelance writer, and retired Seattle police officer. During his career, he served as a field training officer, on the Community Police Team, and as a mountain bike patrol coordinator. He’s written five books, including The Obama Gang and De-Policing America, and he is a contributor to the National Police Association and a freelance writer for The Tatum Report.

Originally from New England, he’s a Boston sports fan. He now lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. He enjoys spending time with his adult kids and three grandchildren.