Thomas Hutchinson Trial Begins with Opening Statements and Testimonies

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - A Bay County man stands before a judge and jury on his first day of trial for manslaughter by culpable neglect.Thomas Hutchinson, who was eighteen at the time, is accused for the death of Timothy Morrell, 46, in October 2015.

Both the prosecution and defense began the trial with opening statements. Prosecutors detailed what occurred between Hutchinson, Morrell; and Morrell's girlfriend at the time, Mary King, when the three went boating near North Bay on October 13th.

"He was angry, and he was violent, and he said 'when he started disrespected my boat' - at the end of the day this is what is was all about," said Prosecutor Robert Sombathy.

Defense Attorney Rudolph Shepard told the jury to look more closely to evidence."Pay attention to the evidence in this case. It is crucial. Do not be swayed by sympathy or emotion. Remember what the lawyers say is not evidence," he said.
Sombathy says the boat was taking on water, and the three tried to get the water out of the boat near a bank at North Bay. Sombathy then says Morrell had insulted Hutchinson's boat, and that's when according to Sombathy, Hutchinson beat and cut Morrell, and left him near the water.

The state called Bay County Sheriff's investigators, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers to the witness stand.

Retired FWC Lt. Chester gave his account of when he found only King and Hutchinson near North Bay.

"I asked, where was the other occupant? And he said he had jumped overboard," he said.

The defense argues that Hutchinson did try to get help for Morrell. "They were out there for five hours, and I think the evidence was going to show you Mr. Hutchinson has called for help the whole time." 

Hutchinson's trial will continue Friday morning at 8:30.

Mary King was found guilty last January of principal to manslaughter and aggravated battery.

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