Former foster mother Michelle Morris-Kerin appeared in Riverside County court on Friday, September 1, where the prosecutor shocked the courtroom by requesting the dismissal of involuntary manslaughter and child cruelty charges against her. Morris-Kerin, who faces nearly a dozen felonies, including allegations of committing lascivious acts upon adult dependents, had the charges dismissed due to the prosecution’s need for additional evidence. The prosecutor confirmed their intention to refile the charges at a later date.
The judge presiding over the case, Judge Timothy F. Freer, had previously thrown out a murder charge against Morris-Kerin in April 2022, citing a lack of convincing evidence that her inaction contributed to the death of Diane Ramirez, a severely disabled individual under her care. The District Attorney’s office is now pursuing further evidence related to Ramirez’s death.
Michelle Morris-Kerin and her husband, Larry Kerin, were present in the courtroom when the charges were dismissed, and they were informed that additional charges may be forthcoming. Brian Cosgrove, the public defender representing Morris-Kerin, reacted to the news with apparent disappointment. Larry Kerin, although not charged with murder or manslaughter, faces charges of child neglect and lewd and lascivious conduct related to Ramirez’s death.
The prosecution expects to complete their investigation by January, with further hearings scheduled for January 26 and a trial tentatively set for late February. Judge Freer emphasized the importance of ensuring a legally sound case due to its magnitude.
Michelle Morris-Kerin began her foster career in Orange County in the mid-1990s, caring for profoundly disabled children. She later adopted many of these children, allowing her to take in more foster children and receive substantial monthly state aid. However, she faced allegations of Munchausen by proxy and clashed with Orange County officials before moving her business to Riverside County.
The indictment against Morris-Kerin accuses her of committing lewd and lascivious acts upon a dependent person, referencing her adopted son Ryan Morris. Ryan Morris’ biological family has long maintained that Morris-Kerin took in children for financial gain.
The case is expected to continue with the prosecution’s gathering of additional evidence and the potential refiling of charges against Michelle Morris-Kerin.