Riverside County foster mother accused of murder can leave jail pending trial, judge decides – Orange County Register

Riverside County foster mother accused of murder can leave jail pending trial, judge decides – Orange County Register
Written by Publishing Team

Diane Ramírez, courtesy of Ángel Cadena Ramirez.

Michelle Morris-Kerin, a former Riverside County foster home manager, initially held on million dollar bail for the death of a child and obscene conduct with others in her care, was released on $ 50,000 bail on Monday Jan. 10 by a judge who said her hands were tied.

The order for the release of Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Freer, which included a long list of conditions, followed strong objections from the district attorney’s office, mother of the late “Princess” Diane Ramirez and the Orange County family of one of the alleged victims. .

A new state Supreme Court ruling left him no choice, the judge said.

“Humphreys was a historic case that changed the landscape,” Freer said. ” That’s not a request of the Supreme Court. It’s not, ‘If you wanted to Like at.’ It is the law of the land.

The Supreme Court ruled that California’s old money bond system violated federal and state constitutions. Whether an accused remained locked up pending trial did not depend on careful, individualized public safety calculations, but on the person’s ability to pay the amount specified in a county’s bail schedule. , said the court.

Instead, judges must now consider an accused’s ability to post bail as well as the seriousness of the charges and criminal history. Judges must choose the least restrictive alternative that protects public safety.

Monica Mukai, the biological aunt of Ryan Morris, one of the alleged victims, pleaded with the judge not to let Morris-Kerin out of jail.


“Not to punish, but to protect people who have been seriously, seriously injured,” said Mukai, of San Juan Capistrano. “She’s incredibly manipulative.”

Ryan Morris, right, and husband Sean Spicer, when they were married in 2014. Spicer has become Morris’s legal guardian. (Photo courtesy of Estates Court File)

Morris-Kerin has pending applications in probate court for legal guardianship of several of his adopted disabled adult children, despite serious felony charges. Ryan Morris is one of them, and his biological family has fought Morris-Kerin for decades to be closer to him.

Ryan Morris has the intellectual capacity of a kindergarten child, and Morris-Kerin poisoned him against his biological family, claim Mukai and his biological relatives. Morris-Kerin also gave Ryan Morris permission to marry a man nearly twice his age, despite the fact that Ryan Morris lacks the capacity to figure out the marriage.

“It is clear that people think you are an absolute danger,” the judge told Morris-Kerin, who is charged with second degree murder in the death of Ramirez and obscene and lascivious conduct with dependent adults in custody. in his care. She was held in the Riverside County Jail for five months.

Freer therefore detailed a long list of conditions that must be met for Morris-Kerin not to be in prison: she must always wear a GPS monitor. She cannot contact her children, the alleged victims, directly or through third parties. She cannot attempt to contact witnesses. She cannot take care of anyone, child or adult. She has to go to court once a week.

If she deviates from the order, “it would be a big mistake” to get her back behind bars, Freer said. “Do you understand?” He asked.

– Yes, your honor, she said.

The judge also issued a protective criminal order covering the 11 alleged victims in the case, including Ryan Morris.

“Many good years”

Morris-Kerin was arrested in August for failing to get help for Ramirez, a desperately ill foster child, and for sexually abusing people with disabilities. Her husband, Edward Lawrence “Larry” Kerin, is charged with negligence in connection with the child’s death, and is also charged with obscene conduct. He was released from prison on $ 35,000 bail.

Michelle Morris is calling on reporters to vacate her property, a 7,000 square foot house in Murrieta in 2016. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

Morris-Kerin, 80, suffers from skin cancer, heart problems and an enlarged aorta, Deputy Public Defender Richard Briones-Colman told the judge. She has little money, does not present a risk of absconding and poses no danger to the public, he said.

“She has had many, many good years as a babysitter,” he said. “The consensus is that she has been with the company too long, working 12 to 16 hours a day, as a 79-year-old woman.”

Morris-Kerin and her husband sold their house on Calle Bandido near Murrieta for $ 1.4 million in December, according to real estate records. By the time they paid off their debts, they only had $ 60,000 left and spent 48,000 on a new, much smaller house, Briones-Colman said. They only have about $ 12,000 left, not enough to pay the high bond, which was initially $ 1 million, but was later lowered to $ 500,000.

Assistant District Attorney Jason Stone countered Morris-Kerin was receiving good medical care in prison and could have used the proceeds from the sale of her home in December to post the $ 500,000 bond rather than buying it. another house. This decision “shouldn’t be a no-get-out card,” Stone said.

Briones-Colman countered that it is not enough to have money to cover the bail – defendants must also have important assets.

The next hearing is set for January 25. Mukai worries about what Morris-Kerin might try to do after getting out of prison.

“I don’t think these restrictions are enough,” Mukai said. “I think the judge should have kept her in jail to protect society.”

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