Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Public safety

Damaged motorcycle was motive for murder plot, neighbors of arrested man say

ST. PETERSBURG — Hours after learning his neighbors had been in an accident early last month, Robert Michael Morgan arrived at Bayfront Medical Center.

He was upset and agitated. He paced the waiting room and went on a rant.

Only one vehicle was involved in the July 12 crash, and that was Morgan's blue 2007 Triumph motorcycle that he allowed his two 30-something neighbors to take for a ride.

Both men were thrown from the bike when it collided with a barrier wall on an Interstate 275 exit ramp, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. One died from his injuries.

But that's not what most concerned 68-year-old Morgan, according to those who saw him after the accident.

"This guy kept going on and on about the damages to his bike," said Greta Harris, whose 31-year-old son, Jacob Matthew Sommerkamp, was killed in the crash. "He never said anything about my son. Someone was killed and he was so upset about his bike."

According to neighbors and friends, Morgan was so mad about his property being damaged that he hatched a plan to make the survivor of the crash, 32-year-old Michael Vallee, pay him back — with his life.

A day after the crash, Morgan asked his roommate, Nelson Carlo, to kill Vallee, according to court records. He even arranged an alibi, telling Carlo he would go to visit his brother in St. Louis when the proposed slaying happened.

On Friday, three state troopers arrested Morgan at his home at the Silver Lake Mobile Home Resort, 4000 24th St. N, on a felony charge of solicitation of murder.

He remains jailed without bail.

"The guy is not right," said Brent Sheppard, 52, who lives with Vallee a few mobile homes down from Morgan. "Robert said he didn't care that someone died. He insisted his bike was totaled. He said he was going to have us all killed because his bike got hurt."

Sheppard said Sommerkamp moved in with them just days before the crash.

According to a preliminary crash report, Morgan's bike sustained $7,000 worth of damage. Officials have not released any other details about the crash or the charge against Morgan, citing an ongoing investigation.

Vallee, who said he is still recovering from his injuries, said he didn't find out about Morgan's plan until he saw it on the news.

"It was quite a shock," he said. "I didn't see a need for all that."

Vallee said that before the crash, Morgan had come over and offered to let him and Sommerkamp take the bike for a joyride. Sommerkamp, who did not have any experience with motorcycles, was driving at the time of the crash.

His girlfriend, Nicole Kerr, 23, asked Morgan to drive her to Bayfront after the crash.

"The whole ride there, he kept saying someone would pay," Kerr said.

No one answered the door at Morgan's mobile home on Thursday, and his motorcycle was missing from his driveway.

Neighbors said it was towed several days ago.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

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