Man Wrongfully Accused of Murder Files Lawsuit After Factual Finding of Innocence

Nov 19, 2015, 17:56 ET from The Law Firm of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer

OAKLAND, Calif., Nov. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer release the following: On November 19, 2015, Ethan Morse, the son of Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse, filed a lawsuit in the Merced County Superior Court alleging violations of his civil rights, malicious prosecution, false arrest, and defamation against Merced County and the three Sheriff's deputies who orchestrated a false murder charge against him.  The Sheriff's department contended a passenger in Morse's vehicle shot and killed a gang member as they drove away from a house party in Atwater on March 30, 2013. Morse claims the Defendants intimidated and coerced witnesses, threatened them with prosecution if they did not implicate him in the crime, and ignored overwhelming evidence that he was innocent. 

After a two day hearing on November 13 and 14, 2014, Judge Ronald Hansen of the Merced County Superior Court found that there was no evidence to support the Sheriff's Office's contention that Mr. Morse was an accessory to murder and found that no gun was shot from Mr. Morse's vehicle.  In short, Judge Hansen declared Morse factually innocent.

Morse's complaint also contends that the real perpetrators of the crime are now known to the Sheriff's Department and the California Attorney General's Office and nothing is being done to bring them to justice. 

Ethan Morse is being represented by J. Gary Gwilliam, Randall E. Strauss and Jayme L. Walker of Oakland based law firm Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer. 

Ethan Morse stated:  "I tried to come forward and tell the Merced Sheriff's Department that they had arrested the wrong person. I paid for it by being prosecuted myself for a crime I didn't commit. I asked several times to take a polygraph test. I spent four months in jail.  I lost a wrestling scholarship and was unable to attend my grandfather's funeral.  Despite being totally exonerated, I'm still confronted by people who believe I committed a crime. Those responsible should be held accountable so that others don't get caught in such a nightmare." 

J. Gary Gwilliam stated:  "It is extremely rare in any criminal case for a judge to make a factual finding of innocence.  The acts of the Merced County Sheriff's Department were outrageous and we intend to aggressively pursue justice for this innocent man. It further concerns Mr. Morse and his family that no efforts are being made to bring to justice the guilty parties." 

CONTACT:  For questions please contact J. Gary Gwilliam, Randall E. Strauss or Jayme L. Walker at 510-832-5411, or by e-mail or


SOURCE The Law Firm of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer