St. Johns County deputy who died after struggle with migrant may have had heart attack before encounter, autopsy finds

Attorneys for 18-year-old migrant Vergilio Aguilar-Mendez, who is accused in the death of a St. Johns County deputy, are bolstering their arguments for why the case should be dismissed.

Sergeant Michael Kunovich collapsed after a struggle to detain Aguilar-Mendez last year. The medical examiner later found Kunovich died of a heart attack.

MORE: Medical examiner says struggle with migrant, possible emotional stress contributed to death of St. Johns County deputy | ‘Be our guardian angel’: Son delivers emotional tribute at funeral for fallen St. Johns County Sgt. Michael Kunovich

Previous reports said Kunovich had damaged arteries and an irregular heartbeat and the medical examiner said the circumstances did not fully meet the criteria for a homicide manner of death. The report found scar tissue on his heart consistent with a heart attack.

The autopsy found damage that was healing, evidence that Sergeant Kunovich may have had a heart attack before the struggle with Aguilar-Mendez.

MORE | Civil attorney for 18-year-old migrant accused in St. Johns County deputy’s death says client was racially profiled

There was blockage ranging from 25% to 75% in his coronary arteries and in some areas plaque was calcified. The report also said he was a chronic smoker.

The filing also included a letter from a child advocate to unaccompanied immigrant children in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

According to his former immigration attorney, Aguilar-Mendez was scheduled for an upcoming immigration court hearing on July 8.

He hasn’t missed any court hearings and to this attorney’s knowledge, he has complied with all immigration court obligations.

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