COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. – Michael Troy Hutto, the man accused of killing a Lake City teenager, claimed the search of his hotel room was an illegal entry and therefore all evidence obtained in this hotel room should be removed.
Lake City teenager Lora Grace Duncan, 18, was found shot dead in Hutto’s hotel room on October 29. Hutto faces charges of manslaughter and possession or use of a weapon in Duncan’s death.
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According to the motion, Duncan’s parents insisted that officers perform a wellness check on the teenager on October 26, even though Duncan had spoken to his parents the same day.
Duncan’s parents claimed the teenager “may have been under the influence of narcotics and easily swayed 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 October 29.
The motion says Duncan contacted her parents on October 27 and told them she was going to the Florida Keys.
The following day, October 28, Duncan’s parents informed detectives of his location and on October 29, officers arrived at the hotel and requested Hutto’s room to perform a wellness check.
They asked a hotel employee to open the door to room 713 where Hutto and Duncan were staying and they entered the room to perform the wellness check. After attempting to enter the hotel bathroom, they discovered Duncan’s body.
The position of his body made it difficult to fully open the door.
Officers manipulated the door to Room 713 so they could have continued access and took photos of several items. They also documented and observed the interior of the toilet with a cell phone as they could not fully access the bathroom.
According to the motion, officers continued to enter and exit the hotel room without a warrant. It wasn’t until hours later that a search warrant was obtained.
The motion states:
“All evidence obtained as a result of law enforcement’s warrantless entry and search of the defendant’s hotel room must be expunged, as such intrusion was neither warranted by the exception of urgent circumstance nor by the exception of consent to the mandate requirement.
“As an overnight guest of the hotel who had arranged payment for the room and who had not been asked to leave, the Court should consider that the defendant has standing to challenge the search of room 713.”
“Where no exception to the search warrant requirement permitted the warrantless entry of the officer into the defendant’s hotel room, the Court should suppress all evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful search. “
“The Court should suppress all evidence obtained as a result of officers unlawfully entering the defendants’ hotel room.”
Action News Jax did not include the filed motion due to the graphic nature of the documents.
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