Couple charged in Kelsey Starling case deny negligent homicide charges


A day after being charged with negligence in the death of Kelsey Starling, a Decatur couple’s attorney is speaking out.

On Thursday, Jason P. Knight, attorney for Nick and Jodi Suggs, sent out a press release to media defending his clients and saying and clarifying their indictment and charges for criminally negligent homicide in the Kelsey Starling case. Starling, 26, has been missing since a boating accident on Smith Lake during the Fourth of July.

According to the Marine Patrol Division, the Suggses were on a pontoon boat while Starling was riding on a MasterCraft driven by Jackson Fites. The two boats collided just after 10 p.m. July 4. Fites was later charged with boating under the influence.

“It was widely reported yesterday that Mr. And Ms. Nick Suggs were arrested, jailed and behind bars in connection with new charges stemming from the tragic boating accident that occurred on the evening of July 4 on Rock Creek at Smith Lake,” Knight said. “Nothing could have been further from the truth.”

As CBS 42 reported Wednesday, the couple accompanied their attorney to the Winston County Sheriff’s Office to turn themselves in following warrants that had been filed against them. They were quickly released after posting $3,000 bond each.

“Mr. and Ms. Suggs are as fine a class of people as you would ever meet,” Knight said. “They are universally loved and respected in their personal and business communities.”

Knight went on to say that the Suggses have both cooperated with law enforcement and the investigation since Day 1, adding he had his own questions about the case.

“It is confounding to us that the Alabama Marine Police Officer has now filed charges against the driver of BOTH the vessels involved in this wreck,” he said. “It makes zero sense.”

Ultimately, Knight said his clients deny the charges against them, that they look to clear their names and that their thoughts and prayers are with Starling and her family.

Criminally negligent homicide is a Class A misdemeanor that can carry up to one year in jail time.

The search for Starling will continue through Friday.

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