The Riverside County foster mother charged with the murder can leave the prison pending trial, the judge ruled

Diane Ramírez, courtesy Ángel Cadena Ramirez.

Michelle Morris-Kerin, a former Riverside County nursing home operator who was originally held on bail of $ 1 million following the death of a child and indecent behavior with others in her care, was arrested on Monday, January 10, Released by a judge on bail for $ 50,000, his hands were tied.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Freer’s release warrant, which contained a long list of conditions, was based on strong objections from the prosecution, the mother of the late “Princess” Diane Ramirez and the Orange County family one of the alleged victims.

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

“Humphreys was a landmark case that changed the landscape,” said Freer. “It is not inquiry from the Supreme Court. It’s not “if you would” like to.’ It is the law of the land. “

The Supreme Court ruled that California’s old bail system was against the federal and state constitutions. Whether a defendant remained incarcerated until a trial did not depend on careful, individualized public safety calculations, but on the person’s ability to deposit the amount specified in the district’s bond plan, the court said.

Instead, judges must now take into account a defendant’s ability to pay bail, as well as the gravity of the charge and previous convictions. Judges must choose the least restrictive alternative that protects public safety.

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


“Not to punish, but to protect people who were grossly, grossly harmed,” said Mukai from San Juan Capistrano. “She’s incredibly manipulative.”

Ryan Morris (right) and husband Sean Spicer at their 2014 wedding. Spicer became Morris’ legal guardian. (Photo courtesy of the Probate Court)

Morris-Kerin has petitions pending in the probate court for guardianship of several of her adopted disabled adult children despite serious criminal charges. Ryan Morris is one of them, and his birth family has fought Morris-Kerin for decades to be closer to him.

Ryan Morris has the intellectual capacity of a kindergarten kid, and Morris-Kerin poisoned him against his birth family, Mukai and the birth relatives claim. Morris-Kerin also gave Ryan Morris permission to marry a man nearly twice his age, even though Ryan Morris lacks the ability to understand marriage.

“It’s clear that people think you are an absolute danger,” the judge told Morris-Kerin, who is charged with second degree murder in Ramirez’s death and indecent and lascivious behavior with dependent adults she entrusts. She has been detained in Riverside County Jail for five months.

Freer has put together a long list of conditions that must be met in order for Morris-Kerin not to go to jail: She has to wear a GPS monitor at all times. She is not allowed to contact her children, the alleged victims, directly or through third parties. She must not try to contact witnesses. She must not take care of anyone, neither children nor adults. She has to report to the court once a week.

If she deviates from the order, “that would be a serious mistake,” she will end up behind bars, Freer said. “Do you understand?” he asked.

“Yes, Your Honor,” she said.

The judge also issued a criminal protection order affecting the 11 alleged victims of the case, including Ryan Morris.

“Many good years”

Morris-Kerin was arrested in August for not getting help for Ramirez, a terminally ill foster child, and for sexually abusing the disabled. Her husband, Edward Lawrence “Larry” Kerin, is charged with neglect in connection with the child’s death and lewd behavior. He is out of jail with a $ 35,000 bond.

Michelle Morris yells at reporters to leave her property, a 7,000 square foot home in Murrieta in 2016. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

Morris-Kerin, 80, has skin cancer, heart problems and an enlarged aorta, assistant public defender Richard Briones-Colman told the judge. She has little money, is not a risk of escape and poses no danger to the public, he said.

“She had many, many good years as a caretaker,” he said. “The consensus is that as a 79-year-old woman, she stayed in the business too long and worked 12 to 16 hours a day.”

Morris-Kerin and her husband sold their home 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 were spending $ 48,000 on a much smaller new home, Briones-Colman said. You only have about $ 12,000 left, not enough to afford the hefty deposit that was originally $ 1 million but was later lowered to $ 500,000.

Assistant District Attorney Jason Stone countered that Morris-Kerin was getting good medical care in jail and that she could have used the proceeds of her December home sale to bail $ 500,000 instead of buying another home. That decision “shouldn’t be a release card,” Stone said.

Briones-Colman countered that it was not enough just to have cash to cover the loan – the defendants must also have considerable assets.

The next hearing is scheduled for January 25th. Mukai worries about what Morris-Kerin might try after he is released from prison.

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

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