30 Apr Iris Eytan Quoted by The Denver Gazette in Article Titled “The Boulder Shooting Suspect’s Attorneys Have Referenced Supposed Mental Illness, But Previous Assault Misdemeanor Probably Wouldn’t Have Caught It”
April 3, 2021
Iris Eytan, of award-winning Colorado criminal defense firm Eytan Nielsen, LLC, was quoted in an articlepublished by The Denver Gazette on April 3, 2021 titled, “The Boulder Shooting Suspect’s Attorneys Have Referenced Supposed Mental Illness, But Previous Assault Misdemeanor Probably Wouldn’t Have Caught It.”
When someone commits an apparently senseless act of violence like opening fire in a grocery store full of shoppers on a Monday afternoon, people search for answers about whether anyone missed warning signs and could have done anything to prevent the act.
A 2018 assault case in which the man charged in connection with last week’s mass shooting attack at a Boulder King Soopers, 21-year-old Ahmad Alissa, beat a fellow student at Arvada West High School might in hindsight look like missed foreshadowing. Alissa pled guilty to third-degree assault in a 2017 incident, and he received a sentence of one year of probation and 48 hours of community service.
At the time, Alissa said the victim had called him racial slurs and bullied Alissa to his breaking point, while the victim has maintained the attack was unprovoked. Attorneys with experience in criminal defense said someone living with a mental illness doesn’t necessarily exhibit obvious signs the average person may think of when they picture serious mental illness, such as statements and behavior suggesting someone is detached from reality.
Criminal defense attorney Iris Eytan of Eytan Nielsen said outlandish or psychotic behavior and statements in reality don’t necessarily precede someone’s act of mass violence. “And that’s what makes (not guilty by reason of insanity) cases so hard to prove to a jury,” Eytan said. “They buy into it only if they can see a serious history and pattern of hospitalizations, of reported conduct; suspensions; expulsions; criminal charges where it’s been discussed.”
That also would make it faulty to assume that Alissa would have exhibited any behavior during the proceedings of his assault case to raise alarm bells for the judge or prosecutor had he suffered from mental illness.
You may read the full article here.
About Iris Eytan
Iris Eytan is an award-winning Colorado lawyer practicing high-profile criminal defense litigation and a founder at Eytan Nielsen, LLC in Denver. Iris’s practice focuses on the aggressive defense of crimes including homicide, serious assault, Title IX disciplinary proceedings, sexual offenses, sexual violence and criminal cases involving mental health defenses and issues.