Man pleads guilty to second-degree murder in stabbing death of 13-year-old a year ago in Olivia, Minnesota

Houston Allen Morris, 39, of Olivia, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Renville County District Court to a charge of second-degree murder without intent, and an amended felony second-degree assault charge. Morris was charged in the fatal March 2022 stabbing of a 13-year-old boy.


OLIVIA — A man charged with the killing of a 13-year-old boy pleaded guilty Wednesday in Renville County District Court.

Houston Allen Morris, 39, of Olivia, pleaded to second-degree murder without intent while committing a felony and an amended felony charge of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.

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Houston Allen Morris
Contributed / Renville County Sheriff's Office

Morris had initially entered not guilty pleas to two counts of second-degree murder charging him in the death of the boy and a third count of attempted second-degree murder of the boy's mother.

Morris was charged after the death of 13-year-old Isaac Hoff. Morris allegedly drove a knife into the chest of Hoff, who was standing behind his mother during an altercation in her Olivia apartment at 5:49 a.m. March 24, 2022.

In exchange for Morris’ plea, a charge of second-degree murder with intent but without premeditation was dismissed. A jointly recommended top-range sentence for the murder charge is expected at sentencing.


According to the plea petition, the presumptive sentence for Morris is 180 months of prison, meaning he could face up to 216 months of prison, per sentencing guidelines. The plea petition also states that both attorneys expect a consecutive 21-month prison sentence for the amended assault charge.

Morris remained in custody at the Renville County Jail as of noon Thursday. He has been held on $500,000 unconditional bail or $350,000 bail with numerous conditions including no possession of firearms or other weapons, no use of alcohol or controlled substances and no contact with victims.

His sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 10 at the Renville County Courthouse.

According to the criminal complaint, Morris and the boy's mother had been arguing and she had grabbed a knife from under a bed. Morris had allegedly squeezed her neck with his hand, hit her on the head with a pipe, causing a laceration, and picked up a metal bed frame and hit her in the head before she grabbed the knife.

A struggle ensued for the knife. Morris allegedly drove the knife toward the woman, but missed and it entered her son’s chest. The youth after he suffered the knife wound called 911 to report that Morris was assaulting his mother, according to prosecutors.

Officers responding to the call found the youth lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor and the woman's 1-year-old daughter also covered in blood in the apartment.

The woman had lacerations to her head, finger and leg. She also had cut wounds on the palm of her hand and apparent deep bite marks on her arm, according to court filings by the prosecution. Morris had a small cut on his finger and hand and no other injuries.

According to the complaint, the couple had a relationship, and Morris had been living with her in her apartment for about two weeks prior to the incident. She had previously filed for an order for protection against Morris.

Dale Morin is a reporter with the West Central Tribune. He covers public safety and breaking news beats.

Dale can be reached at or by phone 320-214-4368.
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