Salt Life founder sentenced to 12 years in prison for shooting dead his girlfriend

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The co-founder of Salt Life beach clothing company was sentenced to 12 years in prison for fatally shooting his teenage girlfriend — and leaving her body to decompose in a Florida hotel.

Michael Hutto, 56, killed 18-year-old Lora Grace Duncan inside their hotel room at the Hilton Singer Island oceanfront resort in October 2020. 

Hutto claimed he had accidentally shot Duncan during a ‘play gun fight,’ WPTV reported. 

Hutto pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the Palm Beach courtroom on Thursday and was immediately sentenced to 12 years in prison, with credit for 79 days served.

Salt Life founder sentenced to 12 years in prison for shooting dead his girlfriend

Michael Hutto, 56, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for fatally shooting his girlfriend Lora Duncan, 18, and leaving her body to decompose in a Florida hotel in 2020

The body of Lora Grace Duncan, 18, when her father tracked her cell phone to the hotel

The body of Lora Grace Duncan, 18, when her father tracked her cell phone to the hotel

Duncan's body was found at the Hilton Singer Island oceanfront resort in October 2020

Duncan’s body was found at the Hilton Singer Island oceanfront resort in October 2020

Hutto, who started the Salt Life clothing brand back in 2003 with friends, appeared in court on Thursday for the sentencing more than three years after the killing. 

According to a probable cause affidavit, Duncan’s body was found at the Palm Beach hotel in 2020 when her father hadn’t heard from her in two days and used an app to track her cell phone to the Hilton hotel. 

He called police to conduct a welfare check and they found her blood-soaked, decomposing body inside the room with a gunshot wound to the stomach. 

‘When patrol units arrived, there was a strong odor of decomposition from the hallway,’ police said. ‘The body was covered in blood and there were live rounds observed on the floor.’

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Hutto, then age 54, who had rented the room and left his wallet and ID behind, fled the gruesome scene. He was located at a hospital in his hometown of Jacksonville. 

Duncan's body was found at the Palm Beach hotel in 2020 when her father hadn't heard from her in two days and used an app to track her cell phone to the Hilton hotel

Duncan’s body was found at the Palm Beach hotel in 2020 when her father hadn’t heard from her in two days and used an app to track her cell phone to the Hilton hotel 

Lora Grace Duncan

Michael Troy Hutto in an earlier mugshot

Hutto told police that Duncan was sitting on the bathroom counter when he pointed the gun at her and accidentally fired. He then put the gun in his black Adidas backpack, left Duncan’s body in the room and fled the scene in his 2020 green Dodge, driving until he ran out of gas

Duncan's father later told police that Hutto and his daughter were in a relationship and that she 'sounded out of character' when they last spoke. Duncan and her father in happier times

Duncan’s father later told police that Hutto and his daughter were in a relationship and that she ‘sounded out of character’ when they last spoke. Duncan and her father in happier times

He had been hospitalized a day before Duncan’s body was found after asking for help at a gas station. 

Witnesses told police that he was ‘twitching, making delusional comments and crying while his eyes were rolling into the back of his head’, according to the arrest report. 

When asked about his girlfriend, Hutto reportedly burst into tears: ‘Oh, my God, I think I hurt my Gracie.’ 

Hutto told police that he and Duncan had stopped at the hotel on the way to visit friends in the Florida Keys.

They were ‘playing inside of the hotel room as if they were shooting with their finger and a gun,’ he had said. 

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Hutto told police that Duncan was sitting on the bathroom counter when he pointed the gun at her and accidentally fired.

He said the then put the gun in his black Adidas backpack, left Duncan’s body in the room and fled the scene in his 2020 green Dodge, driving until he ran out of gas.  

Photos from his arrest show him dressed in green hospital scrubs and red skid-proof socks

Photos from his arrest show him dressed in green hospital scrubs and red skid-proof socks

Photos from his arrest show him dressed in green hospital scrubs and red skid-proof socks

He was taken into custody at a Jacksonville hospital, some 280 miles away from the hotel (above), after he overdosed in his car at a gas station, according to his arrest report

He was taken into custody at a Jacksonville hospital, some 280 miles away from the hotel (above), after he overdosed in his car at a gas station, according to his arrest report

Salt Life issued a statement after the killing, saying Hutto had not been involved with the company since he and his partners sold the business in 2013 for nearly $40 million.

Salt Life issued a statement after the killing, saying Hutto had not been involved with the company since he and his partners sold the business in 2013 for nearly $40 million.

Duncan’s father later told police that Hutto and his daughter were in a relationship and that she ‘sounded out of character’ when they last spoke, according to the arrest report.

He added that he believed Hutto had been given his daughter drugs and keeping her sedated. 

Hutto’s Salt Life business was aimed at boaters, surfers and fishermen. He sold the business in 2013 for nearly $40 million.

Salt Life issued a statement after the killing, saying Hutto had not been involved with the company since he and his partners sold the business.

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