Boulder Shooting Suspect’s Lawyer Cites ‘Mental Illness’ in First Court Appearance

BOULDER, Colo. — A lawyer for the man charged with 10 counts of murder after a mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo.[1], said in court on Thursday that the suspect has an unspecified mental illness.

During the first court appearance for the suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, prosecutors also vowed to file more charges in the next two weeks and said the police were still processing the vast crime scene at the King Soopers grocery store. Mr. Alissa will continue to be held in jail without bond.

Kathryn Herold, a public defender who is among those assigned to represent Mr. Alissa, raised the possibility that he had a mental illness when she asked the judge to postpone the next court date.

“We cannot do anything until we are able to fully assess Mr. Alissa’s mental illness,” Ms. Herold said at the hearing.

Judge Thomas Mulvahill said that the parties would next meet in court in the next 60 to 90 days to discuss the case.

Mr. Alissa, who was shot in the leg by the police during the attack, was brought in and out of the courtroom in a wheelchair and wore a white surgical mask. He spoke only once during the hearing, saying “yes” when the judge asked if he understood his rights.

One of the other lawyers representing Mr. Alissa on Thursday was Daniel King, a longtime public defender who represented the gunman who killed 12 people in 2012 in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater during a trial that hinged on the gunman’s mental state[2].

Law enforcement officials have said that Mr. Alissa, 21, was armed with what appeared to be a semiautomatic rifle and a handgun during the shooting on Monday, and was wearing an armored vest. Investigators said he began the rampage in the parking lot of the grocery store and then made his way inside.

Boulder Police said Mr. Alissa bought a Ruger AR-556 pistol, a short-barreled variant of an AR-15 carbine, just six days before the shooting. They have not said whether that was one of the two weapons he was found with and have declined to provide more details on the weapons used in the attack.

Mr. Alissa is charged with 10 counts of murder in the first degree, including in the death of a police officer who was the first to respond to the scene. If convicted, he faces a penalty of life imprisonment without parole. Prosecutors have charged Mr. Alissa with attempted murder in the first degree, saying he tried to kill another police officer during the attack.

Jack Healy reported from Boulder and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs from New York. Will Wright contributed reporting from New York.

References

  1. ^ grocery store in Boulder, Colo. (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ hinged on the gunman’s mental state (www.nytimes.com)

Jack Healy and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

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