Guilty: Salt Life co-founder sentenced to 12 years in 18-year-old girlfriend's manslaughter
The co-founder of the popular Jacksonville Beach-based lifestyle brand Salt Life has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter with a firearm.
Michael Troy Hutto, 56, changed his plea Thursday in a Palm Beach County courtroom in the death of 18-year-old Lora Grace Duncan in a Riviera Beach hotel in 2020.
According to investigators, the Riviera Beach Police Department was called shortly before 11 a.m. on Oct. 29, 2020, to an oceanfront Hilton hotel to conduct a welfare check on Duncan.
Her father, Burton Duncan, told police he hadn't heard from her for a few days. He said he tracked her phone and believed she was at the hotel with her boyfriend, Hutto. He also told police that he believed Hutto "gave drugs to his daughter to keep her sedated," according to the arrest report.
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When police arrived, staff helped open the door and immediately, "there was a strong odor of decomposition from the hallway," the report said. Her body was found on the bathroom floor covered in blood and with a gunshot wound to her stomach.
The room was booked in Hutto's name and police found his wallet and ID inside, the report states.
Surveillance video showed Hutto leave the hotel with a backpack before he drove off in his vehicle, police said. An alert was immediately issued for Hutto.
Shortly after, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office contacted a detective with the Riviera Beach Police Department and said the previous day, Oct. 28, Hutto survived an overdose at a BP Gas Station on Center Place Way in St. Augustine.
The Sheriff's Office said the attendant called after a man walked into the store asking for help. He was "reportedly twitching, making delusional comments, crying while his eyes were rolling into the back of his head," the report states.
The man, later identified as Hutto, was transported to the hospital where he was receiving treatment, the Sheriff's Office said.
Riviera Beach police detectives went to the hospital where Hutto was being treated and asked if he knew why they were there. He told them "yes" and uttered, "Oh my god, I think, I think I hurt my Gracie" as he began to cry, the police report states.
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Hutto stopped talking but the next day reportedly told the detective the couple was headed to the Florida Keys to see some friends and were staying at the Hilton. When asked about what happened at the hotel, Hutto said "him and his Gracie spent time on the beach … him and his Gracie was playing inside of the hotel room as if they were shooting with their finger and a gun … Gracie was sitting on the counter inside of the bathroom, he pointed the gun at Gracie, at which time it went off and shot her," the police report states.
Hutto said he left the room with the gun and his medications in his backpack, which was found in the front passenger seat of his vehicle, according to the report.
Hutto was arrested and charged with homicide-manslaughter and possession or use of a weapon, the report states.
Salt Life released the following statement after the arrest:
"Sadly we have learned one of Salt Life’s co-founders has been charged with a felony. Salt Life sends their utmost sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased. In 2013, the co-founders of Salt Life sold their entire business to the new owners. The co-founders have not been associated with the brand in any way since the purchase in 2013."
This story first appeared on First Coast News.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Salt Life co-founder guilty in teen's death at Riviera Beach hotel