Merced County prosecutors still reviewing comedy-show death case

Merced County prosecutors say a decision could be reached as early as next week on possible criminal charges against the son-in-law of Merced’s police chief.

Jesse J. Saucedo, 36, was arrested June 27 on suspicion of manslaughter in the death of 55-year-old Jack Kline of Atwater. Saucedo posted bail and was released a short time after he was booked into Merced County Jail. He remains free on bail.

No formal charges have been filed by the Merced County District Attorney’s Office.

District Attorney Larry D. Morse II on Friday said the case is still under review.

“We’re still going through the autopsy report and other reports. I’ll meet next week with the chief deputies regarding any filing decisions,” Morse told the Sun-Star.

Kline died April 9, three weeks after he was allegedly punched in the face multiple times by Saucedo during a fight at a comedy show in downtown Merced.

Merced police investigated the case, despite Saucedo’s relation to police Chief Norman Andrade. Merced police have said they do not believe there was any conflict of interest in the investigation, saying Andrade “immediately recused himself from the case.”

Police said an argument broke out between groups of people at the March 21 comedy show that resulted in a confrontation between Saucedo and Kline. The victim was struck between two and six times, allegedly by Saucedo, police said.

Police, in a news release, said the autopsy report concluded Kline’s death was attributed to injuries he sustained during the March 21 incident and ruled the death a homicide, the 13th of the year in Merced County.

Police explained a manslaughter allegation as “a case where the crime resulting in death was committed in the heat of the moment.”