Navarre resident John Marshall Fitzgerald was found not guilty by reason of self defense Thursday night in the Oct. 30 shooting of college student Nelson Rivers Starkey.
This is the second time the case has gone to trial, and the first trial ended in a hung jury. The incident occurred at Fitzgerald’s home in Holley by the Sea while his nephew, Thomas Darby, and Darby’s friend, Starkey were staying at the house on vacation.
According to Fitzgerald’s testimony recorded during the first trial and submitted as evidence in the retrial, the three men were drinking together that evening when an argument occurred between Fitzgerald and Starkey. Fitzgerald said that Starkey threatened to beat him up at which point he said he demanded the two men leave the house.
He said when they did not leave, he retrieved his pistol from the back bedroom and threatened to kill the men if they did not go.
Darby fled down the street without his shoes, but Fitzgerald said Starkey had to be led to the door. He said when they reached the front door Starkey turned on him and attempted to wrestle the gun away at which point he shot Starkey.
Fitzgerald had been charged with second degree attempted murder and aggravated battery on Starkey as well as aggravated assault on Darby.
The jury cleared him of all three charges under what is known as the “castle doctrine” or “stand your ground law” that states individuals have the right to defend themselves in their homes through the use of deadly force.
Starkey was shot three times, sustaining two injuries to the head and sustained additional injuries to his right arm and thigh. He is currently hospitalized with permanent brain damage caused by the bullets.
For the full story including an interview with Starkey’s father, read the Dec. 15 issue of the Navarre Press. Subscribe to Navarre Press for as little as $38 per year by clicking HERE.