WOBURN -- Mark Kerrigan, the brother of Olympian Nancy Kerrigan, was acquitted today of an involuntary manslaughter charge but convicted of the lesser charge of assault and battery in the confrontation that preceded his father's death at the family’s Stoneham home in January 2010.
As the verdict was read in Middlesex Superior Court, Mark Kerrigan showed little emotion, but family members in the courtroom, who had supported him in spite of the charges brought in the wake of the death of 70-year-old Daniel Kerrigan, hugged and broke into tears.
"My family has never believed at all that my brother had anything to do with my father's death," Nancy Kerrigan said outside the courthouse, as she clutched her mother's arm. "My dad never would have wanted any of this."
Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. expressed satisfaction at the conviction, even though it was on the lesser charge. “When a defendant commits criminal conduct the way this defendant did, they need to be held responsible and accountable, and this verdict holds Mark Kerrigan accountable and responsible for beating his 70-year-old father,” he said.
Middlesex Superior Court Judge Jane Haggerty scheduled a sentencing hearing for 9 a.m. Thursday.
Prosecutors had argued that Mark Kerrigan, 46, fought with his father in an argument over the use of the house's telephone, grabbing him by the neck, crushing the cartilage there, and triggering his heart failure.
Prosecutor Elizabeth Keeley said in her closing argument Monday that the son’s “actions set into motion a natural and continuous sequence of events that led to Daniel Kerrigan’s death.”
“If it were not for the actions of this defendant, we would not be here today and Mr. Kerrigan would not have died in the manner that he did on the floor of his home,” Leone said after the verdict. “This verdict speaks to the actions of an angry, belligerent, highly intoxicated 45-year-old man who cared more about himself and his selfish desires than his 70-year-old father.”
Defense attorney Janice Bassil said in her closing argument that the prosecution had failed to prove its case. She suggested that the elder Kerrigan’s heart failure began before he started grappling with his son.
She said the elder man had a long history of coronary artery disease. She conceded that Mark Kerrigan told police he had grabbed his father by the neck, but she told jurors that they could not rely on what he said that night, because he was drunk.
“This has been an enormous ordeal for Nancy and particularly her mother,” Bassil said after the verdict.
“I would have liked a not-guilty verdict on everything. I don’t think the government proved its case. I’m glad the jury saw the truth, that there was no manslaughter here, there was no killing here, and they convicted him of the least charge they could,” she said.
“It was going to boil down to the facts, the science, and the medicine, and that’s what the jury understood,” she said.
She said Nancy Kerrigan would likely give a victim impact statement at the sentencing hearing requesting the judge keep the sentence to a minimum. She said the maximum sentence was 2½ years in jail.
The family supported the son through the trial. The trial had featured tearful testimony by Daniel Kerrigan’s wife, Brenda, who disputed that the confrontation between her son and husband, which she witnessed, was a “fight.” Mrs. Kerrigan also twice sat through the playing of the 911 tape from the night of Jan. 23, 2010, which featured her frantic voice reporting the trouble in her home.
After closing arguments were delivered, jurors deliberated 4½ hours on Monday, then eight hours on Tuesday, before resuming deliberations for about three hours this morning.
Nancy Kerrigan won a silver medal in the 1994 Olympics and a bronze in the 1992 Olympics. She made headlines of a different kind when she was attacked in 1994 by a man linked to one of her competitors, Tonya Harding.
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