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Driver Gets Probation In Hit-And-Run Death

February 10, 1989

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ A motorist who eluded authorities for 2 1/2 years using attorney-client privilege has been sentenced to 30 months probation in the hit-and-run death of a 28-year-old man.

William D. Morser, 55, was also ordered Thursday to surrender his driver’s license for 18 months and perform 500 hours of community service for leaving the scene of the accident that killed Mark Baltes on March 9, 1986.

The victim’s mother was hoping for a stiffer sentence for Morser, who said he failed to stop after running over Baltes’ prone body on South Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach because he thought it was a pile of rags.

″This man has no remorse. He took a human life. I feel he should be punished through the penal system of the court,″ Mildred Baltes of Middletown, N.Y., said after the ruling by Palm Beach Circuit Judge Thomas Sholtz.

Morser, a Delray Beach restaurateur, changed his plea from innocent to no contest Thursday in order to put an end to the highly publicized case, his attorney Barry Krischer said.

Morser, who still faces a $6 million civil lawsuit by Baltes’ family, had faced a maximum sentence of one year in jail under state guidelines.

The case drew national attention when it was learned that the driver of the hit-and-run vehicle had hired a lawyer the day after the accident. Krischer refused to disclose his client’s name, citing the attorney-client privilege of confidentiality.

Investigators first suspected Morser on Nov. 3, 1988, after inspecting his white Buick Riviera, which resembled the car that struck Baltes.

Morser came forward two days later, identifying himself as the driver. Under the terms of the subpoena issued to compel him to talk about the case, Morser was given immunity in exchange for a confession.

Morser has denied he was at fault in the accident, blaming Baltes for being in the road in the middle of the night. Tests showed Baltes had a blood alcohol level of 0.26 percent, more than 2 1/2 times the legal limit in Florida.

Morser said he didn’t realize he had hit a person until he read a newspaper the next day. After learning a man had been killed, he decided to seek a lawyer’s advice.

In the ensuing months, Krischer refused to disclose his client’s identification despite the lawsuit brought by Baltes’ parents.

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