Proceedings against 23-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa have been paused for more than a year after a judge found him to be mentally incompetent in December 2021 and sent him to the state mental hospital for treatment.
On Friday, Judge Ingrid Bakke said that while experts there say he is still incompetent, they believe there is a “reasonable likelihood” that Alissa can be made competent.
He's charged with murder and multiple attempted murder counts. He hasn't been asked to enter a plea yet.
Micheal Dougherty, the district attorney for the 20th Judicial District, said there are 450 people sitting in jails around Colorado waiting, despite being ordered by the courts to go to state hospitals, because of backlog there.
"And that's a struggle that the state hospital is dealing with," Dougherty said. "And it's a very real struggle for them. And it impacts and hampers the prosecutor's ability to do justice in cases and for cases to move along."
He said there are 49 people waiting at the Boulder County Jail to go to the state hospital for treatment to be restored to competency.
"And not only are those 49 cases stalled, and we're waiting, but the taxpayers of Colorado are paying a $10 million fine every year, because the state of Colorado is failing to comply with a decree put in place in federal court to speed up and improve the restoration process," he added. "And that's been true since 2019."
He said he believes doctors and staff at the state hospital are doing their best to improve the situation, adding that there has been some improvements recently.
"But I also recognize they're dealing with significant delays, staffing shortages, whatever else is the reason," he said. "Those are the realities that we face right now."
He acknowledged that this is frustrating for the families of the victims.
"They want to see this case move forward," he said. "They want to see justice done. They want to see their family members honored. And they want to have some form of closure through the justice system."
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