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Morse arraignment delayed until Feb. 26

SANTA ROSA — A case without winners — whatever the outcome.

That’s how one attorney described the fate of Dylan Morse, the 18-year-old son of Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II, who is facing felony charges of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence.

Wearing a navy blue jailhouse uniform, Dylan Morse sat expressionless in Sonoma County Superior Court on Wednesday. Meanwhile, his mother Cindy Morse looked on sadly from the audience.

Tuesday’s scheduled court arraignment was the younger Morse’s first public appearance since his arrest Saturday morning after a fatal two-car collision about 15 miles south of Santa Rosa.

California Highway Patrol investigators say Morse was driving drunk. The collision killed one person and severely injured two others, one of whom remains in a coma.

Morse didn’t enter a plea Tuesday, as defense attorney Chris Andrian requested additional time from the court to prepare for the case. Morse is scheduled to reappear in court on Feb. 26 to enter a plea.

Andrian, a Santa Rosa-based attorney, called the case an utter tragedy. “Nobody can possibly win in a situation like this, no matter what happens,” Andrian said.

Deputy District Attorney Robert Waner said a breath test administered by the CHP indicated that Morse blood alcohol level was .15 — nearly twice the state’s legal limit. He also said Morse was carrying a fake driver’s license. “It was a very good one, which is what got (state Alcoholic Beverage Control) agents involved (in the investigation),” Waner said.

CHP investigators reported the collision at 2:20 a.m. at the intersection of Stony Point Road and Highway 116 near Cotati. Morse was driving a 1998 Volvo southbound on Stony Point Road and passed through a red light. He collided with a 1988 Honda, driven by 22-year-old Alexander Ruiz, according to the CHP.

Ruiz, an Oakland resident, was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, 25-year-old Vanessa King, suffered major facial lacerations, a broken arm and a broken collar bone. She was released from the hospital.

The passenger in Morse’s car, 19-year-old Ryne Spitzer, was injured with major head trauma. Morse wasn’t injured.

Cindy Morse said Spitzer remains in a coma at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. He’s listed in critical condition.

Morse said her thoughts are with the victims, calling their families extremely “generous and Christian” in their attitudes. “Our hearts and most of our concerns are with the Spitzer and Ruiz families,” Morse added.

She also said her son is emotionally devastated. “I can’t think of a word awful enough to tell you how he feels,” she said.

Morse is facing felony charges of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence and causing bodily injury to another person and causing bodily injury while driving with blood alcohol concentration at or above .08.

Morse faces up to 15 years in prison, if convicted of the charges, Waner said. He remains at the Sonoma County Jail in lieu of $180,000 bail.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

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