TAMPA, Fla. -- The man accused of killing a father of two by deliberately ramming him with his car appeared in court Friday and pleaded not guilty.
- Mikese Morse pleads not guilty on murder charges
- Morse accused of deliberately driving his car into family on bikes, killing 42-year-old father
- Morse ordered to undergo mental competency exam
During the arraignment, a court-appointed doctor was tabbed to evaluate Morse in the near future for mental competency. That report is due back in court on Aug. 22.
Meanwhile, the State Attorney's Office has 45 days to decide whether to seek the death penalty.
Morse, 30, was arrested June 24 and charged with premeditated first-degree murder. He's also charged with leaving the scene of a crash with a death and injuries. He's being held without bail at the Hillsborough County Jail.
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan told reporters that 42-year-old Pedro Aguerreberry was riding on an off-road bike path in New Tampa with his young sons around noon Sunday when Morse drove his Dodge Avenger off the road, over a grass median and into the family.
Aguerreberry was killed and his 3-year-old, Bennett, was injured but is recovering. His 8-year-old, Lucas, wasn't seriously hurt.
Morse's family has said he suffers from mentally illness.
The day of the crash, Morse appeared visibly angry and increasingly incoherent in videos posted on Instagram. They show him talking about acting in the name of the Lord while walking around a Wal-Mart store. One video ends, "I'm going to kill somebody tonight right now."
The Morses said their son has struggled mentally since his early twenties, all while trying to pursue a track career.
Mikese Morse was a track standout at Freedom High in New Tampa and at the University of South Florida. Morse won the Big East championship for long jump and later qualified for the United States Olympic Trials three times and was a finalist in 2008 and 2016. However, he did not make any Olympic teams.
In court of Friday, Morse could be seen conferring with his attorney James Smith, who was retained a week ago. He spoke only once to the judge to plead not guilty.
Morse's family said he was in a state of mental psychosis when police say he struck and killed Aguerreberry. Morse's mental history was discussed at the arraignment.
"I think the fact that today is the first time his mental health was introduced to the court is the perfect example of his failure of the mental health system," said Morse's mother Khadeeja Morse. "Because everyone previously involved with this knew about it."
Morse and his attorney are due back in court Aug. 27, five days after the mental competency report is due.