Merced District Attorney Larry D. Morse II
The fourth of six children, Larry D. Morse II was born and raised in Lancaster, California in the Mojave Desert. His father was an attorney and Los Angeles County Municipal Court Judge. A 1975 graduate of Quartz Hill High School, Morse attended the University of Arkansas, earning a Bachelor's degree in Journalism in 1979. Following graduation, he worked as a newspaper reporter for the Arkansas Democrat (now Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) in Little Rock. Among his assignments were interviews with Bill Clinton, Watergate Prosecutor Leon Jaworski, and coverage of the second landing of the Space Shuttle at Edwards Air Force Base. Morse left the newspaper to become Press Secretary/Legislative Aide to Congressman Bob Whittaker.
Morse attended the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento where he studied Constitutional Law under now United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. While in law school, Morse worked as editor of Senior Spectrum Newspapers and in the California Legislature as Communications Director for the Senate Democratic Caucus. After earning his law degree Morse continued as Legislative Director for state Senator Milton Marks of San Francisco until joining the Merced County District Attorney's office in 1993. He was appointed Chief Deputy in 1998.
Morse was elected District Attorney in 2006 and was reelected in 2010 and 2014.
He has successfully prosecuted nearly 20 murder cases, including two death penalty cases. In 2007, following a change of venue to Colusa County, Morse led the successful capital case prosecution of the murderer of Merced Police Officer Stephan Gray. In 2010 he obtained a murder conviction in a ten-year old cold case homicide. In 2013 Morse successfully prosecuted the couple who murdered Ana DeCeja and kidnapped her infant child. The case was profiled in 2016 on the nationally syndicated television show, "Killer Instinct," with Chris Hansen.
In his tenure as a prosecutor Morse has also successfully prosecuted two consumer fraud cases that resulted in nearly a million dollars in penalties paid to Merced County and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of computer monitors for county schools. He obtained felony convictions and prison sentences against three men who intentionally exposed high school job training students to asbestos at the former Castle Air Force Base. He has been named Prosecutor of the Year by A Woman's Place and the Central Valley Arson Investigator's Association.
Morse served on the local committee which successfully landed UC Merced, was a founding board member of the Merced Boys and Girls Club; board member of the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce, and co-chair of the successful Measure S campaign for Merced City Schools. He is Co-founder of Merced County Project 10% which coordinates presentations by trained UC Merced students to nearly 4,000 eighth graders each year on the importance of high school graduation. In 2017 Morse founded the county's first Mock Trial program for high school students and served as judge during the competition at the historic Merced County Courthouse.
As District Attorney, Morse created the first county wide gang task force. He also founded the county's first Crime Stoppers Program. Under his leadership the Merced County District Attorney's Office was able to secure a new building purchased and renovated, without county general funds and was the second DA's office to go "paperless." In 2016 Morse drafted a proposal and worked with Assemblyman Adam Gray to secure $4.5 million in state assistance for a pilot program to bring intelligence gathering capabilities to the county's gang suppression efforts.
Morse has been a leader in state public safety as well. He has served two terms on the California District Attorneys Association's board of directors and more than a decade as co-chair of CDAA's Legislation Committee, which monitors all public safety legislation in the California Legislature. In 2016, Morse served as state co-chair with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten in the effort to stop Proposition 47.
Larry is a member of Elks Lodge 1240 in Merced and sponsored its first women member. He also is a member of the Sportsman's Club in Los Banos and, since 1996, a member of the historical E Clampus Vitas. Larry and his wife Cindy, a family law attorney, have three sons.