Mistrial Declared in Manslaughter Case After Defendant Caught Smoking Marijuana

Panama City, Fla. - A manslaughter trial is now declared a mistrial. The defendant, Thomas Hutchinson, is behind bars after presiding Judge Brantley Clark determined he was the influence of drugs Friday morning.

The mistrial comes after Hutchinson was charged for the death of Timothy Morrell, 46, in October 2015.

"I've had some observations that you may be intoxicated," said Judge Clark. "No, sir," replied Hutchinson.

The defense was scheduled to deliver on the second day of trial, but before that began Clark had some questions.

"Last night, I smoked some weed last night," admitted Hutchinson.

Rusty Shepard, Hutchinson's attorney, then motioned to continue the trial the following week. "We've already selected the jury. We've already gone through the presentation - majority of the evidence," said Shepard.

The state left it to the court decide on Hutchinson's competence.

However, Judge Clark said the case might end in a mistrial and that Hutchinson would be arrested with his bond revoked.

Hutchinson was not in custody at the time and maintained he's still able to stand trial. That presented some problems for the prosecution.

"My concern right now, is for the record is that once the concept of being taken into custody was brought up, now he's decided he's competent," said Prosecutor Robert Sombathy.

Clark made the final decision to declare a mistrial, and dismiss the 8-member jury.

"The case will be mistrialed. We'll charge Mr. Hutchinson and we'll take him into custody today for contempt of court - for violation of his release," said Clark.

Hutchinson is scheduled to return to court January 23rd, 9:30 a.m. At that time attorneys will begin the work to prepare for another trial. 


A mistrial was declared in a manslaughter trial Friday after Judge Brantley Clark determined that the defendant was under the influence of drugs.

Clark questioned Thomas Hutchinson about his mental state after observing that he seemed intoxicated. Hutchinson took an oath and admitted that he had smoked marijuana Thursday night. Hutchinson was not being held in custody during the trial. 

Hutchinson was arrested and his bond was revoked Friday morning. Hutchinson and Mary King are charged in the death of Timothy Morrell, 46, in October 2015. 

Hutchinson will now return to court on January 23. 


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