Mental health system let down Tampa man accused of killing bicyclist, family says

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s been almost three years since a car veered off a New Tampa road and hit Pedro Aguerreberry while he was riding his bike with his two young children on a bike path.

Aguerreberry was killed and his two children were injured on June 24, 2018. Days after the crime, Tampa police arrested Mikese Morse, saying witnesses saw him turn his car around and intentionally run over the family.

Since then, Morse has admitted in court that he’s guilty, although he has yet to stand trial.

His mother and father said Wednesday he had a psychotic breakdown that led to the incident. Morse’s attorney said he begged for help before the incident because he knew he was having a mental breakdown.

He was committed to a mental health facility under Florida’s “Baker Act” and stayed there for seven days. Morse’s family says he was not fully recovered at that time but the facility refused to keep him.

“He was released with a bus pass and a ‘good luck’ and everything that we tried to do to prevent something from happening fell on deaf ears,” Khadeeja Morse said.

The family said the incident in New Tampa happened three days after he was released.

His attorney called it a failure of the mental health system.

“He did what anybody else should do, he reached out for help,” attorney Jhenner Hines said. “His parents tried to get him mental health services but were told he’s not a criminal and being mentally ill is not a crime.”

The attorney said Morse was an “A” student, a star athlete and was a standout track star at the University of South Florida who competed twice to make the U.S. Olympic team. That all changed, Hines said, when he was beaten and robbed in Ybor City in 2006.

“At that time he sustained a head injury that led to him having a psychotic break,” Hines said.

Morse will have a non-jury trial Monday where he is expected to be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

State Attorney Andrew Warren said early in the case he would not pursue the death penalty because of Morse’s severe mental health issues.

Warren issued a statement on Wednesday saying, “We agree the system failed Mikese Morse. The question now is what comes next, after his mental illness led him to drive 30 feet off the road to run down a family. We need to make sure he doesn’t hurt anyone else as he’s getting treatment – that requires a secure facility.”

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