Salt Life co-founder, 56, sentenced to 12 years for killing 18-year-old girlfriend
A co-founder of the clothing company Salt Life has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to fatally shooting his teenage girlfriend before leaving her body to decompose in a Florida hotel.
Michael Hutto, 56, entered the guilty plea in Florida on Thursday, Feb. 16, accepting responsibility for the killing of 18-year-old Lora Grace Duncan at the Hilton Singer Island oceanfront resort in October 2020.
He claimed he accidentally gunned down the teenager during a mock shooting game, reported the station WPTV.
Hutto was later arrested in his hometown of Jacksonville after fleeing the crime scene.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Duncan’s father had called the police and requested a welfare check after not hearing from his daughter for several days.
The dad used an app to track his daughter’s cellphone to the Hilton hotel, where police arrived to discover her blood-soaked, decomposing body with a gunshot wound to the stomach.
The hotel room where the grim body was discovered had been rented in Hutto’s name, and his wallet and ID card were found inside the room, police said at the time.
A day before Duncan was found dead, Hutto had been taken to a hospital in Jacksonville after he was found sitting in his illegally parked car in a St. Augustine gas station.
The businessman was reported to have been “twitching, making delusional comments and crying while his eyes were rolling into the back of his head,” according to the affidavit.
When detectives questioned Hutto about his girlfriend, the then-54-year-old man was quoted as telling them, “Oh, my God, I think I hurt my Gracie,” and then burst into tears.
During a subsequent interview, Hutto told police that he and Duncan were en route to the Florida Keys to visit friends when they stopped at the Hilton.
After spending time on the beach together, Hutto said, he and his girlfriend were “playing inside of the hotel room as if they were shooting with their finger and a gun.”
Hutto said Duncan was sitting on the counter in the bathroom when he pointed a gun at her and it fired, with one round striking her.
Hutto said he then placed the gun in his Adidas backpack, jumped in his green Dodge and sped away, driving until he ran out of gas.
Duncan’s father claimed that Hutto had been plying his teen daughter with drugs and keeping her sedated.
After pleading guilty to a charge of manslaughter with a firearm, Hutto was immediately sentenced to 12 years in prison, with credit for 79 days served.
Hutto and several friends started Salt Life Apparel in 2003. Hutto is credited with coming up with the name.