HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The man accused of intentionally running over a biking family and killing a father could face the death penalty. His defense is saying the State Attorney’s Office is considering it.
The parents of murder suspect, Mikese Morse, breaking down over the stunning revelation their son could face the death penalty.
“It’s unacceptable. What else could it be? Unacceptable because we tried to prevent this from happening," cried Khadeeja Morse, mother of the suspect.
The 30-year-old was somber before a Hillsborough County judge in his pre-trial detention hearing. He's accused of first-degree premeditated murder, two counts of attempted murder and for leaving the scene of a crash. The incident killed Pedro Aguerreberry and injured his two sons.
Judge Gregory Holder asked Morse if he understood it was within Morse's rights to choose his own attorney.
"Yes I do. My decision is Mr. James Smith," said the barely audible Morse.
His choice in the Orlando-based private attorney put an end to a tense back-and-forth between the Morse family and the public defender’s office over who would get that right.
“This case really is about one fundamental thing: Do we punish people who have mental health issues or do we treat them?" asked Smith.
Smith’s biggest pushback is claiming the state failed to efficiently contain and treat Morse. The parents have been outspoken about their decade-long struggle to get him help. Just two weeks before the deadly hit-and-run, Morse was committed under the Baker Act. His parents say he was released from a mental health facility a week later, while he was still psychotic, they say.
“This universe can end— I do not care!" said the suspect in one Instagram video that has gone viral since he was arrested. In a surprising twist, Smith is calling his client’s rambling videos his "biggest piece of evidence on his behalf.”
“The true me—not being pulled by you—does not ever. I never help a man. I finna kill someone tonight" said Morse at the end of the video.
His mother says she’s tried to get him help for a decade.
“We would say ‘look at what he’s posting online! Look at what he’s saying’ and we could never get help," she said. She argues her son is mentally unfit to stand trial and the state needs to do more to help the mentally ill.
“How many more of these tragedies have to happen before we are willing to do something to this broken system?" she asked.
Morse’s arraignment, where he’ll formally be read his charges, is set for Friday July 13.