Criminal grand jury again indicts owner-operators of care home for murder and endangerment
Fri, 08/12/2023 - 04:00
A Riverside County criminal grand jury has again returned an indictment against the owner/operators of a care home in the La Cresta area of unincorporated Riverside County, near Murrieta.
Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin made the announcement following the unsealing of the 15-count grand jury indictment on Thursday. Michelle Louise Morris-Kerin, DOB: 7-21-41; and her husband, Edward Lawrence “Larry” Kerin, DOB: 3-28-42, were arraigned on Dec. 7, 2023 at the Southwest Justice Center, and entered pleas of not guilty.
Michelle Morris-Kerin was indicted on 15 counts involving multiple victims, including murder, involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment, dependent adult endangerment likely to cause great bodily injury or death, and lewd acts on dependent adults. Morris-Kerin’s husband, Edward Lawrence “Larry” Kerin, was indicted on nine total counts, also involving multiple victims, including involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment, dependent adult endangerment, and lewd acts on dependent adults.
A joint investigation into the couple and allegations of serious neglect and abuse at the Morris Small Family Home was started by the Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, the Riverside County DA’s Office, and other agencies after the April 6, 2019 death of Diane “Princess” Ramirez. Ramirez, 17, was living at the facility under the care of Morris-Kerin and Kerin at the time of her death.
Previously, a Riverside County criminal grand jury returned a 14-count indictment against the defendants as case SWF2107067. On April 28, 2022, the court granted a motion by the defense to dismiss the murder charge against Morris-Kerin. In the subsequent months, further investigation was conducted, and new evidence was obtained. That prompted prosecutors to convene a new criminal grand jury to hear additional facts in the case, and led to the new indictment, which was filed on Nov. 20, 2023.
The unsealed indictment alleges ongoing physical abuse and neglect of dependent children and adults, along with the sexual abuse of three dependent adults who were under the care of the defendants.
At Thursday’s arraignment, prosecutors requested bail set for Morris-Kern at $50,000, the figure which had previously been set by the court. Kerin’s bail was set at $35,000, also the previously set amount. The defendants have been released on their own recognizance with the understanding bail terms must be met by Dec. 15. On Thursday, Riverside County prosecutors also issued criminal protective orders to prohibit communication by the defendants with certain victims. The defendants are scheduled to return to court for a trial readiness conference on Jan. 26 at the Southwest Justice Center, S301, at 8:30 a.m.
The new case against the couple, SWF2307099, is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorneys Maureen DuMouchel, Natasha Sorace, and Kasey Sutton of the DA’s Office Special Prosecutions Region.