State

DA's son pleads guilty in DUI

SANTA ROSA -- The 18-year-old son of the Merced County district attorney pleaded guilty Friday to all charges against him in a felony manslaughter and drunken-driving case that killed one man and injured two people in Sonoma County.

"We are admitting to all the charges," said Dylan Morse's attorney, Chris Andrian. "My client had absolutely no interest in contesting any of this. He's completely remorseful."

On Feb. 14, Morse, who had been drinking, ran a red light and slammed into the car of Alexander Ruiz, who was killed. Ruiz's passenger, Vanessa King, was hurt. Morse's passenger and friend, Ryan Spizter of Merced, was injured and is in a coma. Morse was not injured.

He pleaded guilty to three felonies, three misdemeanors and admitted to 13 enhancements before Judge Kenneth Gnoss in Sonoma County Superior Court.

A message seeking comment left with Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II's assistant was not returned.

Ruiz's father said Morse's plea would have little bearing on his family's grief. "The courts are not the place where solace is found," Michael Ruiz said.

Morse faces up to 15 years in state prison. Sentencing is scheduled for July 15 in Sonoma Superior Court.

Andrian said he has few illusions about Morse's sentencing. "We know there is going to be a penal consequence," he said.

Morse has been attending an alcohol rehabilitation clinic in Florida and was scheduled to return to the clinic after Friday's hearing, Andrian said.

Morse sat in court with his head down and his hands in his lap. His mother sat beside him. More than a dozen of Ruiz's friends and family attended.

California Highway Patrol investigators reported that the accident happened at 2:20 a.m. at Stony Point Road and Highway 116 near Cotati, about 15 miles south of Santa Rosa.

Morse was driving south on Stony Point Road and ran a red light, the CHP reported. He hit Ruiz's car, and the impact sent both cars into a field.

CHP investigators say Morse was driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 percent, nearly twice the state's legal limit.

  Comments