http://www.wftv.com/news/19471875/detail.htmlSEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. -- A child rapist who admitted to preying on nearly 20 children is now a free man. Kareem Merthie was released during a hearing in Seminole County Friday morning.
Merthie's mother collapsed in the hallway outside the courtroom. Deputies were unable to revive Ruth Merthie, and she was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Before collapsing, Ruth Merthie was in the courtroom while a psychiatrist testified about her son's improvement. She got up and walked out but collapsed several minutes later.
"Excuse me, I need to get to hospital to see my mother," Merthie said.
SLIDESHOW: Child Rapist In Court
Kareem Merthie was convicted when he was 16-years-old. He was locked up in juvenile detention for more than 4 years and spent another five years in a state mental hospital for violent sex offenders.
The 26-year-old preacher's son admitted to preying on children as young as four years old. He told investigators he raped them at his father's church in Sanford.
Kareem Merthie had nothing to say to reporters when he left the Seminole County Courthouse. Circuit Court Judge O.H. Eaton Jr. ruled that Merthe be released from a state mental hospital for violent sex offenders.
Three different psychologists testified in the case and each with a different opinion on Merthie's mental state. One doctor still says he's a threat.
"Are you testifying that he is safe to be released?" asked State Attorney Anne Perrin.
"No, I am not testifying that he is safe to be released," replied a doctor.
"The two other doctors say he doesn't meet the criteria anymore," said Defense Attorney Tom Summerville.
In the end, the judge's decision came down to state law. By definition, Merthie no longer meets the criteria of a violent, high-risk sex offender.
He is free to go live with his uncle in a neighborhood on Alexander Avenue in Sanford.
Kareem Merthie does have to register as a sexual predator so neighbors will know he is living there. Neighbors say they are not happy about it.
"Yes, we don't want him around here, too many children round here," said neighbor Anthony Robinson. "Sooner or later, you did it once; you did it 20 times, you're going to do it again."