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Northern Indiana man pleads guilty to murder in 4-year-old son's beating death

Alan Morgan pleaded guilty Wednesday in the death of his biological son Judah, who was found beaten to death last October.

LAPORTE COUNTY, Ind. — A LaPorte man pleaded guilty to murder Wednesday in the death of his 4-year-old son, who was found beaten to death on the floor of his home in October 2021. 

As part of his plea agreement, Alan Morgan, 29, admitted he committed murder and battery. 

In exchange, the prosecutor agreed to take “Life without Parole” off the table as a possible sentence. The prosecutor also dropped charges of neglect of a dependent and animal cruelty.

(NOTE: The video in the player above is from a 2021 report about Judah's foster mother seeking justice)

The plea agreement also resolved a second case. Morgan pleaded guilty to felony resisting law enforcement, and the prosecutor dismissed other charges related to drug possession, reckless driving and operating a vehicle while under the influence.

LaPorte County deputies first went to Morgan's home in rural Union Township at 2:45 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 11, following reports of an unconscious child in the home. 

When deputies couldn't get in touch with anyone inside the home, they decided to enter it. Soon after, the deputies found 4-year-old Judah Morgan dead on the floor.

A review of court documents obtained by 13News from that morning paint a sobering picture of the conditions Judah's longtime foster mother, Jenna Hullett, suspected he faced inside the home for years. 

Credit: Jenna Hullett
Judah Morgan, 4, was found dead on a bedroom floor of a LaPorte County home on October 11, 2021. His biological parents, Alan Morgan and Mary Yoder, face charges in connection with his death.

Court documents show Alan Morgan and Mary Yoder, Judah's biological mother, had a kitchen fridge with a cord attached to a key-style lock, "so no one could open it," detectives said in an affidavit. 

Filth, garbage and animal feces were found throughout the home. 

More disturbing, though, was what police reportedly found in the basement.  

RELATED: Foster family of 4-year-old killed after reunion with birth parents demand answers

It was cold, with no working lights. Torn-off bits of silver and camouflage duct tape were strewn about the cold room, and several pieces were taped to a wall. 

In one corner, police found a small pair of training pants and an infant-style toilet. 

Human waste rotted inside, not far from where a lone fluffy blanket was found, with small pieces of the same silver duct tape that was on the walls, attached. 

When detectives later interviewed Yoder, she told them those were all techniques her husband would use to punish Judah for not being potty-trained. 

In the aftermath of Judah's death, Hullett claimed DCS failed to pursue several of her attempts to notify them he suffered abuse in the home. She pushed Indiana lawmakers to push legislation that could help prevent the deaths of more children like Judah. 

The result of those efforts was two new pieces of legislation. 

Senate Bill 410 is officially called Judah's Law and was authored by Sen. Mike Bohacek, Sen. Ron Alting, and Sen. Andy Zay. It centers around how unlicensed caregivers like Hullett would be allowed to intervene in juvenile court proceedings.

RELATED: Judah's Law: 2 bills motivated by death of Judah Morgan make way to Holcomb's desk

Under the law, unlicensed caregivers may intervene as a party in court in the case of children needing CHINS services, and to proceed to terminate the parent-child relationship.

RELATED: 50 Hoosier children died of abuse or neglect in 2020, according to DCS

Meanwhile, House Bill 1247, authored by Rep. Ryan Laurer, would require DCS to include if a deceased child had a prior history with DCS, and the location and status of the child at the time of death. The agency would also have to indicate whether a child had an open case with DCS at the time of their death. 

"We want justice, whatever that is, and for it to be over with," Hullet said in reaction to Morgan's guilty plea. 

Morgan will be sentenced on Nov. 29th.

RELATED: Caregiver advocates for victims of child abuse at the Statehouse

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