Michael Troy Hutto, co-founder of the popular Jacksonville Beach-based lifestyle brand Salt Life, was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter with a firearm. The incident occurred in 2020 when Hutto and an 18-year-old woman, Lora Grace Duncan, were staying in a Riviera Beach hotel.
According to reports, 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, said he hadn’t heard from her for a few days, and he tracked her phone to the hotel, where he believed she was with Hutto. Duncan also told police that he believed Hutto “gave drugs to his daughter to keep her sedated,” according to the arrest report.
When police arrived, there was a strong odor of decomposition, and Duncan’s body was found on the bathroom floor with a gunshot wound to her stomach. Surveillance video showed Hutto leave the hotel with a backpack before driving off in his vehicle. 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 in St. Augustine. The attendant called after a man walked into the store asking for help. Hutto was transported to the hospital, where he was interviewed by police.
During the interview, Hutto said that he and Duncan had been headed to the Florida Keys to see some friends and were staying at the Hilton. He also said that they were “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 stopped talking but the next day reportedly told the detective what happened.
Hutto was arrested and charged with homicide-manslaughter and possession or use of a weapon. 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.”
Hutto’s case highlights a tragic reality of gun violence. While many are aware of the devastating impact of guns in the United States, few are aware of the immense tragedy behind each individual case of gun violence that occur each day. It is important to remember that behind each case of gun violence, there is a life that has been lost and a family that has been left behind.