Columbia County

Salt Life co-founder accused of killing Lake City teen in hotel room claims search was unlawful

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. — Michael Troy Hutto, the man accused of killing a Lake City teen, has claimed that the search of his hotel room was an unlawful entry and, therefore, all evidence obtained in that hotel room should be suppressed.

The Lake City teen, 18-year-old Lora Grace Duncan, was found shot to death in Hutto’s hotel room on Oct. 29. Hutto faces charges of manslaughter and possession or use of a weapon in Duncan’s death.

REPORT: Co-founder of Salt Life brand was ‘playing’ with gun when it went off, fatally shooting Lake City teen

According to the motion, Duncan’s parents insisted that officers conduct a welfare check on the teen on Oct. 26, even though Duncan had spoken to her parents that same day.

Duncan’s parents claimed the teen “may have been under the influence of narcotics and easily influenced by Hutto.”

Officers then issued a request to attempt to locate and notify Duncan through the Columbia County dispatch system. That evening, Hutto paid for a one-night stay for Duncan and himself at the Hilton Singer Island Hotel in Riviera Beach, Florida.

This one-night stay eventually turned into multiple nights, ending on Oct. 29.

The motion states Duncan contacted her parents on Oct. 27 and told them she would be heading to the Florida Keys.

The next day, Oct. 28, Duncan’s parents informed detectives of her location and on Oct. 29, officers arrived at the hotel and asked for Hutto’s room to conduct a welfare check.

They got a hotel employee to open the door of Room 713 where Hutto and Duncan were staying and they entered the room to conduct the welfare check. After trying to enter the hotel bathroom, they discovered Duncan’s body.

The position of her body made it difficult to open the door fully.

Officers manipulated the door of Room 713 so that they could have continued access and took pictures of multiple items. They also documented and observed the interior of the restroom with a cellphone since they could not access the bathroom fully.

According to the motion, officers continued to go in and out of the hotel room without a warrant. It wasn’t until hours later when a search warrant was obtained.

The motion states:

“All evidence obtained as the result of law enforcements warrantless entry and search of Defendant’s Hotel Room must be suppressed, as such intrusion was neither justified by the exigent circumstance exception nor the consent exception to the warrant requirement.

“As an overnight guest of the Hotel who had prearranged payment of the room and who had not been asked to leave, the Court should hold that Defendant has standing to contest the search of Room 713.

“Where no exception to the search warrant requirement permitted Officer’s warrantless entry of Defendant’s Hotel Room, the Court should suppress all evidence obtained as a result of the illegal search.

“The Court should suppress all evidence obtained as a result of Officers’ unlawful entry into Defendants Hotel Room.”

Action News Jax has chosen not to include the filed motion due to the graphic images contained within the documents.

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