A couple who operated a La Cresta care home where a 17-year-old physically and developmentally disabled girl died from alleged abuse and neglect pleaded not guilty Monday to felony charges.
Michelle Louise Morris Kerin, 80, and her husband, 79-year-old Edward Lawrence Kerin, came under investigation in 2019 following the death of Diane “Princess” Ramirez at the defendants’ care facility, the Morris Small Family Home.
Michelle Kerin was indicted for murder, child endangerment likely to cause great bodily injury, abuse of a dependent adult and lewd acts on a dependent adult. Her husband was charged identically — with the exception of the murder count.
They were jointly arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge F. Paul Dickerson, who scheduled a trial-readiness conference for Sept. 14 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
Michelle Kerin is being held on $1 million bail at the nearby Byrd Detention Center; Edward Kerin is free on a $35,000 bond.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Diane Ramirez began suffering from undisclosed health complications on April 6, 2019, resulting in bloody vomit, poor vital signs and pain that lasted for hours.
Michelle Kerin allegedly “refused to seek help for Diane” despite her condition, according to a DA’s office statement released earlier this month.
The girl died the same day.
The ensuing investigation, which involved agents from the state’s Community Care Licensing program, sheriff’s deputies and DA’s office personnel, uncovered numerous alleged irregularities and criminal acts against residents, prosecutors said.
“Many of the victims were non-ambulatory and unable to speak, requiring 24-hour care,” according to the agency statement. “Some of the adult dependent residents were found to lack the mental capacity to give consent but engaged in sexual activities facilitated and encouraged by both defendants.”
The number of alleged victims was unclear.
The care home’s license was suspended.
Neither defendant has documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: