Jacob Matt Morgan was convicted of setting a fire in his home that would kill his baby brother in South Carolina. When he was convicted in 2016 Jacob Matt Morgan was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Today Jacob Morgan was released from prison after serving a little more than seven years. Even though Jacob Morgan pleaded guilty to the crime he has never admitted that he was responsible for his brother’s death. Many people have mixed feelings when it comes to the teen killer as some believe that the fire was an accident and others believing the opposite. Jacob Matt Morgan who is on the autistic spectrum was denied parole earlier this year. After seven years in prison it will be interesting to see how he responds to his new freedom
Jacob Matt Morgan More News
Jacob Matt Morgan was 17 years old when he was convicted and sent to prison for a 2015 York County, S.C., fire that killed his baby brother. The scene of Morgan weeping in court captured worldwide attention. Morgan, now 24, was released Thursday from a South Carolina prison after serving about half of the 15-year sentence. Chrysti Shain, spokesperson for the S.C. Department of Corrections, confirmed to The Herald that Morgan had been released around 10 a.m. from the MacDougall prison in Berkeley County, S.C.
Controversy remains. Over the past seven years, Morgan’s case has continued to capture internet interest on TikTok, Facebook and other social media as people debate whether he is guilty, if a person of his age and state of mind should have been jailed, and the 2015 death of the 14-month-old child. Morgan pleaded guilty in 2016 but has never admitted guilt in the fire near Rock Hill where Joshua Hill died.
In the type of plea Jacob Matt Morgan accepted in 2016, called an Alford plea, he was not required to admit guilt, but he accepted the punishment a guilty plea would carry. Morgan still has another 15-year prison sentence hanging over his head if he does not successfully complete five years of probation, according to officials and court documents. He faces five years probation from his 2016 conviction where the 15-year sentence for arson was suspended, according to Anita Dantzler, spokesperson for the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services.
There were concerns bout Morgan’s state of mind and past actions discussed in court during his trial.
Prosecutors said in court that officials had several files on Jacob Matt Morgan dating back a decade before the fire. The files included referrals for outpatient psychiatric treatment, which resulted in diagnoses of bipolar disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, and anti-social personality disorder. Prosecutors also said in court they had police records from multiple calls to law enforcement after Morgan allegedly threatened and, in some cases attacked, family members.
For years, Morgan’s supporters have said he should not have been imprisoned and had no malice toward his brother. Family members claimed at the time and after Morgan pleaded guilty that he did not intend to harm his baby brother.
His family did interviews, including a 2016 national show with Dr. Drew on Headline News. Some even started a change.org petition that claimed community support for Morgan.
Morgan’s lawyer for the criminal charges, York County Public Defender B.J Barrowclough, told The Herald he is pleased Jacob Matt Morgan is finally being released
“I was happy to hear that Jacob Morgan’s release from prison is imminent,” Barrowclough said. “He was a soft-hearted, kind young man when I knew him seven years ago and he has endured a terrible tragedy. He loved his brother and always maintained his innocence. “It is important to note that even the State in reducing the murder charge to involuntary manslaughter did not take the position that he killed his brother on purpose. Whatever one believes about the case, he has done his time and I look forward to him becoming a productive member of our community. I wish him well.”
Prosecutors and law enforcement officials stated in court that Jacob Matt Morgan lied to cover up the crime and knew his brother would die in the fire.
Jacob Matt Morgan was babysitting at the time. Police and prosecutors said Morgan set fires in the family mobile home, and did not call 911 for help. Prosecutors also said Morgan had set a fire at the home two weeks earlier. Morgan admitted during a police interview that he dropped a tea candle in a blanket in the master bedroom the morning of the fatal fire, and set fire to a string on one of the sofa pillows in the living room, prosecutors have said in court.
He was barefoot and couldn’t stomp the fire out once it started getting out of control, officials said. Morgan never went to the bedroom where his brother was after setting the fire. He went outside and observed the blaze before going to a neighbor’s home to call for help, prosecutors said in court. Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett, York County’s top prosecutor, told The Herald this year there is no question the fire was intentionally set.
Brackett said Jacob Matt Morgan should serve his sentences as prescribed by law and judicial order. “The legal aspect of this terrible crime may have concluded but the consequences will continue to be felt by those involved for the rest of their lives,” Brackett said Thursday.
Jacob Matt Morgan initially was charged with murder and first-degree arson and faced the possibility of life in prison.
Under the 2016 deal, he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, third-degree arson, and unlawful conduct toward a child. He was sentenced to 10 years for the unlawful conduct, and five years for the involuntary manslaughter, court records show. A 15-year sentence for the arson was suspended upon service of five years probation after release from prison, documents state. Barrowclough said in court in 2016 that he agreed with the decision for Morgan to plead guilty using the Alford plea.
Jacob Matt Morgan was denied parole in hearings in 2021 and May of this year. At the May 2022, Morgan said he would change places with his brother who died. “Not a day goes by that I don’t regret my brother’s death,” Morgan told the parole board. “I would gladly change places with him.” When parole officials asked Morgan why he became involved in the deadly incident, Morgan replied that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but did not elaborate.
Morgan served about half his active sentence. He also received credit for a year in jail without bail while waiting for trial. Morgan told parole officials he has received a General Equivalency Diploma. He earned at least six educational credits from SCDC, SCDC documents show. Morgan now has to report to probation officials to fulfill his probation sentence, officials said. The 15 years arson sentence by Judge Dan Hall in 2016 stays active until he completes probation. Under South Carolina law, failure to comply with probation conditions means law enforcement officials could ask a judge to reinstate the 15-year sentence from the arson conviction. Morgan will be assigned a York County probation agent, Dantzler of the South Carolina probation department said. Persons on probation are not allowed to leave South Carolina without approval and cannot possess firearms, according to a standard list of probation conditions provided by Dantzler to The Herald. He will have to have periodic meetings with his probation officer.