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Kerrigan’s brother pleads not guilty to manslaughter
Question of the Day
WOBURN, Mass. | Figure skater Nancy Kerrigan’s brother pleaded not guilty to manslaughter Friday in the death of their father, who prosecutors say was stricken after a violent clash with his son.
Prosecutors say 70-year-old Daniel Kerrigan died after the fight with 45-year-old Mark Kerrigan in the family home in Stoneham, outside Boston. The family says Mark Kerrigan is not responsible for his father’s death.
Kerrigan was arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn, where he entered not guilty pleas to manslaughter and assault. He left the courthouse without comment just before noon after posting a new $25,000 bail set by the clerk magistrate.
“The Kerrigans are extremely pleased to have Mark back at home where he belongs,” his family said later in a statement.
Before the manslaughter indictment, Kerrigan had been out on bail and living with his mother in the family’s Stoneham home, where the alleged assault took place.
Prosecutors said Kerrigan was in a drunken rage during a Jan. 24 argument with his father over the use of the family telephone when the conflict escalated into violence.
Officials said the younger Kerrigan began grabbing and shoving his father. They said Kerrigan grabbed his father around the neck, fracturing his larynx and causing him to fall to the floor on his back, unconscious.
A state medical examiner said the cause of death was “cardiac dysrhythmia” — a loss or interruption of a normal heartbeat that can lead to cardiac arrest — after an altercation with neck compression that damaged his windpipe. The findings also noted that the elder Kerrigan had high blood pressure and clogged arteries.
On Friday, prosecutor Elizabeth Keeley argued for $50,000 bail, saying Mark Kerrigan has a history of violence and had been released from a 3 1/2-year prison term only two months before the fight with his father. Keeley said Kerrigan suffers from anxiety over his fear of returning to prison, and told police he would resist if they came to arrest him again.
She noted his mother, Brenda Kerrigan, who is legally blind, was the only witness to the fight.
“I would suggest … that this defendant is a risk to his mother,” Keeley said.
Defense attorney Janice Bassil countered that it is “simply absurd” to suggest Kerrigan is a threat to his mother and called the prosecutor’s statements “a blatant attempt to poison public opinion about Mr. Kerrigan.”
Bassil said Kerrigan has complied with the bail conditions. She said his earlier remarks about police came when he was intoxicated and that he is forbidden from drinking as a condition of his bail.
Bassil said the family wants Mark Kerrigan home as they continue to deal with Daniel Kerrigan’s death.
“Mark grieves, as well, and it is just simply unfair to try to pit him against his family,” Bassil said.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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