Diane ‘Princess’ Ramirez death: Riverside County grand jury reindicts couple in death of disabled girl at foster home

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CNS) — A couple who operated a La Cresta care home where a 17-year-old disabled girl died and other residents allegedly suffered physical and sexual abuse were out of custody Friday after pleading not guilty to multiple felony charges.

Michelle Louise Morris Kerin, 82, and her husband, 81-year-old Edward Lawrence Kerin, were originally indicted in connection with the death of Diane “Princess” Ramirez in 2021. However, after prosecutors uncovered additional, undisclosed evidence, the case was presented to the Riverside County Grand Jury a second time, resulting in a superseding indictment on Nov. 20.

Michelle Kerin was indicted for murder, involuntary manslaughter, five counts each of child cruelty and dependent adult abuse, as well as three counts of lewd acts on a dependent person by a caretaker.

Her husband was indicted for involuntary manslaughter, three counts each of child cruelty and dependent adult abuse, and two counts of lewd acts on a dependent person by a caretaker.

The defendants were jointly arraigned Thursday before Superior Court Judge Timothy Freer, who scheduled a trial-readiness conference for Jan. 26 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.

Freer granted the defense’s requests for the couple to be released on their own recognizance, as they pose no imminent public safety threat, have no prior convictions and are not considered flight risks.

The pair originally came under investigation in 2019 following Diane Ramirez’s death at their care facility, the Morris Small Family Home.

Michelle Kerin was also indicted for murder in 2021, but that count was dismissed last year, along with a manslaughter allegation, following arguments presented by her attorney. She remained charged with child and dependent care abuse, along with Edward Kerin, pending a re-presentation of the case to the grand jury.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, Diane began suffering from undisclosed health complications on April 6, 2019, resulting in bloody vomit, failing vital signs and pain that lasted hours.

Michelle Kerin allegedly “refused to seek help for Diane” despite her condition, according to a D.A.’s office statement released in 2021.

The girl died the same day.

The ensuing investigation, which involved agents from the state’s Community Care Licensing program, sheriff’s deputies and D.A.’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 victims’ identities were not disclosed. The care home’s license was revoked.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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