Riverside County foster parents charged in death of disabled teen girl appear in court

MURRIETA, Calif. (KABC) -- A Riverside County couple charged in the death of a disabled teenage girl who was living at their foster home appeared in court Thursday.

Michelle 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' foster home, the Morris Small Family Home near Murrieta.

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.

Michelle Kerin wore a blue jumpsuit and was shackled as she appeared at the courtroom for her arraignment.

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An unsealed grand jury indictment alleges years of neglect by the couple. The couple owned and operated the now-closed foster home.

Diane "Princess" Ramirez, 17, was placed in the foster home. She died in April 2019 after she became seriously ill.

An investigation revealed that despite vomiting blood and suffering in pain for hours, Michelle Kerin allegedly refused to get help. Her husband is charged with child neglect in Ramirez's death.

In court, he appeared after posting bail to ask that his arraignment be moved up to coincide with his wife's as their cases move forward.

The 14-count indictment also alleges physical and sexual abuse involving victims who could not speak or walk, and required constant care.

"There's 11 total victims that are listed in the indictment. They range in age from about 9 to 33." said John Hall, a spokesperson for the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

During their arraignment, publicly appointed defense attorneys for the couple asked for a postponement.

Michelle Kerin remains in custody on $1 million bail.

Both defendants will be back in court Aug. 30.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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