BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) –  The process into trying Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, the suspect in the Boulder mass shooting earlier this year, could linger if competency cannot be established. Victims and family members were planning to travel from around Colorado and the country in hopes of hearing the evidence and possibly a motive, if learned, for the horrific crime. Now, the judge has postponed the preliminary hearing and will advise Ahmad Alissa that a competency evaluation is being ordered.

In a court filing his public defenders say they believe, “Mr. Alissa is currently incompetent.”

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They contend he suffers from a mental disability which makes him unable to understand the proceedings or assist his attorneys in his defense.

Legal analyst Raj Chohan explained, “The defendant will be evaluated at the state mental hospital, usually in Pueblo, by a mental health expert, usually a PHD.”

CBS4 Legal Analyst Raj Chohan (credit: CBS)

Friends of the defendant and members of his family have said Alissa was bullied at school and was paranoid. One of his tweets before the shootings writes about “racist Islamophobic people” hacking his phone. A competency exam could delay a trial indefinitely. As the defense pointed out in a motion — “Rapport has to be established with the defendant to talk, witness interviews conducted, data gathered, and a mental heath professional must make a determination if the defendant is competent.”

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“It can go on indefinitely. The person has to be restored to competency,” Chohan said.

In another Colorado mass shooting case, Robert Dear has yet to stand trial nearly 6 years after the attack on an abortion clinic in Colorado Springs. He has been repeatedly found not able to be put on trial.

If the King Soopers defendant is found competent to be tried at any point and he could still plead not guilty by reason of insanity, claiming that he didn’t know the difference between right and wrong at the time of the crime.

Rick Sallinger