(Kennewick, WA) -- The man accused of opening fire inside the Fred Meyer location in Richland last year has now been found competent to stand trial, and the case will proceed. It was on Tuesday Benton County Superior Court Judge Diana Ruff decided that Aaron Kelly understands the accusations made against him and can assist with his legal defense with his case.

According to court officials, both prosecutors and Kelly's legal team participated in a half-day competency hearing, concluding with an oral ruling from the judge that Kelley was indeed mentally fit to continue with the case. The next step is an arraignment that is scheduled for Wednesday, February 22, during which Kelly is expected to enter a plea. The case will proceed from there with a trial date expected to be set.

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It was around this time last year that authorities say Kelly opened fire inside the Richland store, killing Instacart worker Justin Krumbrah, and wounding a Fred Meyer employee. That caused a massive police response from all over the Tri-Cities and led to an hours-long lockdown while authorities tried searching inside the store for the shooter. Kelly was later found along I-90 near Spokane 11 hours later.

After being brought back to Benton County, his attorneys asked for and received the go-ahead for a competency hearing, citing Kelly's mental state. Since then, he has been treated at Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake near Spokane. Yesterday's hearing was the first time Kelly had been seen in court in months. The hearing lasted four hours.

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Gallery Credit: Peter Richman

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