The man who led the targeted attempt to kill a witness against him in a human trafficking case in an attack that left a teenager dead and three other people critically wounded was sentenced to death Friday, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.
Michael Harrison Hunt, 58, was found guilty of First-Degree Murder and three counts of Attempted First-Degree Murder on Sept. 13. The jury voted 10-2 for the Death Penalty. Friday, Circuit Court Judge Shonna Young Gay followed that recommendation and ordered Hunt incarcerated until the sentence can be carried out.
“Michael Hunt is very dangerous,” Basford said after the sentencing. “He was involved in the human trafficking of young women. The reason we are here today is because he attempted to kill one of the victims that was going to testify against him.
“In the process he ended up killing a totally different teenager who had nothing to do with the case, along with attempting to kill three other people in the home,” Basford continued. “We agree with the jury and the judge that in this case, the death penalty is appropriate.”
Hunt planned the break-in at a Cove home on April 4, 2019, where the victim in a human trafficking case who was going to testify against him was staying. The intended victim hid and escaped harm, but Alexandra “Lexie” Peck, 19, who resembled the victim, was shot to death. Her stepfather Danny Scoggins was shot in the throat but was able to crawl next door for help. He has endured more than 60 surgeries since. Two other people in the house were shot but survived.
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A collaborative investigation led by the Panama City Police Department with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and State Attorney’s Office led to a manhunt for the defendant. He was arrested the following day.
Prosecutors Mark Graham and Peter Overstreet tried the case against Hunt and the jury reached a verdict in about an hour.
During sentencing, Judge Gay found that five aggravating factors had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and that they carried great weight. Gay found the defendant previously had been convicted of a crime involving violence, the murder occurred while committing a burglary, the murder was committed to disrupt or hinder a lawful investigation, the murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel, and that the murder was committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner.
For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at email@example.com, or call 850-381-7454.