TAMPA — His name had barely been uttered when Mikese Morse, the man accused of running down and killing a New Tampa father, began to ramble in a Tampa courtroom.
Morse, in court Monday for a mental competency hearing, complained about his attorney’s performance, then made a puzzling confession to another homicide.
"They’re trying to suppress information," he told Hillsborough Circuit Judge Mark Kiser. "I also want you to know that on June 12, before I even got into the situation I’m here (for), I was seen between 12:30 and 4:30 on Orient Road and Hillsborough — "
The judge interrupted, but Morris continued.
"I’m telling you," he said, "I committed a murder."
The judge told Morse to say nothing more.
"I need to get this off my chest, your honor," Morse said. He kept talking, mentioning a man on a bicycle, before the judge told deputies to remove him.
The outburst was the latest wrinkle in a case vexed by what Morse’s family has described as his profound mental illness.
"It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that my son isn’t in his right frame of mind," said his mother, Khadeeja Morse. "What else do I need to do to get my son some help?"
The date Morse mentioned — June 12 — is the same day that he was taken into protective custody under the state’s Baker Act.
There were no fatal traffic crashes reported that morning at Orient Road and Hillsborough Avenue.
But there was a reported crash.
Just after 4 a.m., Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies and paramedics responded to a hit-and-run call involving a man on a bike, said agency spokesman Danny Alvarez. The man had some abrasions but refused medical treatment, declined to speak with deputies and left the scene.
Just after 7 a.m., Morse walked into a north Tampa police substation and told an officer he "did something really bad," according to a police report. He wouldn’t specify what it was he had done, but spoke of being attacked by "energy projections" and rambled about conspiracies and religion, the report stated. He later told the officer not to let him leave "or he may hurt someone."
Alvarez said the Sheriff’s Office has no way to know if the Orient Road incident is linked to Morse.
Morse’s parents said his courtroom comments were just another public manifestation of his mental condition.
"I don’t know why we should be surprised by anything when he’s been in there nine weeks without treatment," said his mother, Khadeeja Morse.
Mikese Morse, 30, is charged with first-degree murder in the June 24 death of Pedro Aguerreberry. The father was riding bicycles with his two sons, ages 3 and 8, on a New Tampa Boulevard bike path when Morse drove past in a Dodge Avenger, police said. He made a U-turn, tore across a swath of grass and plowed into the trio.
Aguerreberry died. His younger son suffered a broken leg; the older boy had minor injuries.
Morse drove a few miles and abandoned his car, police said. Officers arrested him at his parents’ home.
Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren told reporters after Monday’s hearing that his office will not seek the death penalty in the case, in part because of the defendant’s mental health problems.
In the weeks since his arrest, Morse’s behavior has become noticeably more psychotic, his mother said. In their visits, he has denied that there is anything wrong with him. At the same time, he has said he believes there are no criminal charges against him.
Khadeeja Morse worries of lasting damage.
"Here he is in the midst of a raging psychotic state and he has gotten no treatment," she said. "If he had cancer, if he had diabetes, he would have gotten treatment by now."
Morse’s parents have sought to have him declared legally incapacitated so that they can make decisions for him. Paperwork filed in court notes that their son suffers from schizophrenia. They have obtained an emergency order to be appointed as his temporary legal guardians.
In July, Judge Kiser ordered a psychiatrist to assess whether Morse is mentally competent to stand trial. The results of that exam were due last week, but the doctor has not yet been able to examine Morse.
The next court date is set for Sept. 13.
Times staff writer Tony Marrero contributed to this report. Contact Dan Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.