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Insanity hearing in New Tampa crash case postponed

Prosecutors agreed last month that Mikese Morse should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Mikese Morse attends a pretrial detention hearing in 2018 in Hillsborough Circuit Court.
Mikese Morse attends a pretrial detention hearing in 2018 in Hillsborough Circuit Court. [ JAMES BORCHUCK | Times ]
Published Apr. 16
Updated Apr. 16

TAMPA — A Monday hearing for a judge to decide what to do with Mikese Morse — the man who attorneys say was insane when he ran off a New Tampa road and plowed into a father and two sons — has been postponed.

After conferring Friday with lawyers for the state and Morse’s defense, a judge determined that the case was not ready to go forward. One psychological expert still needs to undergo a deposition, attorneys said. Both sides also have yet to finalize an agreement on the facts of the case, but prosecutors have said that Morse should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

A new hearing date had yet to be scheduled.

Related: State: Defendant in New Tampa bike death was insane

Morse, 33, was accused of murder on June 24, 2018, after police said he ran a car off a roadway and caused the collision that killed Pedro Aguerreberry, who was riding bicycles along New Tampa Boulevard with his sons, ages 8 and 3.

Pedro Aguerreberry, pictured here with wife Meghan and sons Lucas and Bennett, was bike riding along New Tampa Boulevard with his sons when they were struck by a car driven by Mikese Morse.  [Facebook]
Pedro Aguerreberry, pictured here with wife Meghan and sons Lucas and Bennett, was bike riding along New Tampa Boulevard with his sons when they were struck by a car driven by Mikese Morse. [Facebook]

Morse, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia, had been released days earlier from a mental health facility. Shortly before the collision, he posted video to social media in which he rambled about the devil and “energies changing” inside him. His family has been outspoken about his mental illness and their struggles to get him adequate help.

Related: Three years after horrific crash, Tampa parents keep mental health at forefront

While the state has agreed that Morse was insane when the crime occurred, and thus cannot be held criminally responsible for it, questions arose in court about whether his next court hearing would be called a “non-jury trial” or something else.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Christopher Sabella expressed concern that a trial would imply that there was a factual dispute that needed to be settled. Although both sides say they agree, with nothing yet in writing, there are no guarantees of a resolution.

Assistant State Attorney Scott Harmon said the hearing would not be a trial at all. Evidence and testimony would be presented for the judge to determine the course of Morse’s future mental health treatment.

The state has said they want Morse committed to a secure psychiatric hospital. The defense has said they prefer a plan that incorporates private care.