Police: Wanted man hid from officer during traffic stop

Police: Wanted man hid from officer during traffic stop

From the Las Vegas Optic

A Las Vegas man wanted on child abuse and escape charges was arrested Saturday following a traffic stop. A passenger was also arrested, charged with aiding a felon.

Police had been searching for 31-year-old Michael A.P. Morse since a warrant was issued for his arrest in December. He’s accused of violating the conditions of his release after being charged with multiple drug charges last fall. Another arrest warrant was issued March 8 after Morse was accused of abusing his children.

Officers with New Mexico State Police stopped a vehicle registered to Morse Saturday on Interstate 25, near exit 343. A woman was driving, and 28-year-old Joey A. Lucero was a passenger in the back seat.

Police allege that when Lucero stepped out of the vehicle, he quickly closed the door, preventing officers from seeing inside, according to an arrest affidavit filed Monday in San Miguel Magistrate Court. Police asked if Morse was in the vehicle, but Lucero claimed he wasn’t.

When the woman opened the “back hatch,” officers located Morse hiding in the back, according to the affidavit.

Child abuse charges

Earlier this month, police were called to a home in rural San Miguel County, south of Las Vegas, by one of Morse’s family members who’d been looking after Morse’s children.

Morse’s 14-year-old child told police they’d been staying with her uncle because there was no power or running water at Morse’s home, according to a criminal complaint filed in San Miguel Magistrate court on March 8. The child told police Morse had “become furious” and then slapped them in the face because they’d asked when the power and water would be turned on again.

Previous charges

Morse was already being sought by police on charges of escaping from house arrest while awaiting trial on drug trafficking and possession charges from a case filed in Magistrate Court in the fall of 2021.

On Oct. 8, police stopped a Cadillac SUV driven by Morse on NM 518, about a mile south of Storrie Lake State Park, because he was not wearing a seat belt, according to a criminal complaint filed in San Miguel Magistrate Court.

Morse was detained after telling police he did not have his driver’s license or insurance and registration information with him. Police determined Morse had outstanding traffic warrants, and the vehicle was towed.

Prior to towing the SUV, police located a piece of foil in the center console with drug residue, along with two blue pills.

Morse was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, along with four misdemeanors for driver’s license not in possession, not wearing a seat belt, not having insurance and not having evidence of registration.

An amended criminal complaint filed Oct. 25 added two felony counts of trafficking controlled substances. The amended complaint was filed after a search of the vehicle when police located a can with a false bottom that contained 12 bags with a total of 93 grams of methamphetamine, according to the amended complaint filed in Magistrate Court. During a search of Morse, police located 20 “blue pills.”

Morse was released on an unsecured bond and ordered to house arrest until trial. But investigators with the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office allege Morse violated the terms of his release by not being at his home during a visit by the investigator around 7 p.m. on Nov. 20, according to an affidavit for arrest filed in Magistrate Court in December.

Eight days later, an officer with the Las Vegas Police Department located Morse on Grand Avenue, at a time he was required to be at home under the terms of his release.

Saturday arrests

Morse was arrested following Saturday’s traffic stop and booked into the San Miguel County Detention Center. He is scheduled to appear in Magistrate Court on March 31 for a preliminary hearing in the drug trafficking case.

During a hearing Monday, Judge Christian Montaño set a $5,000 unsecured bond for Morse, and again ordered him to house arrest, subject to escape charges. Separately, in the child abuse case, a separate $5,000 unsecured bond was set, with stipulations that he be on house arrest.

Morse is scheduled to appear in Magistrate Court April 19 for a preliminary hearing in the child abuse case. A preliminary hearing in the escape case is scheduled for April 21.

Lucero was arrested following the traffic stop as well, and booked into SMCDC. He is charged with one felony count of harboring or aiding a felon.

During a Monday hearing, Judge Christian Montaño set a $2,000 unsecured bond for Lucero. He is scheduled to appear in Magistrate Court March 24 for a preliminary hearing.