- Associated Press - Monday, February 14, 2011

WOBURN, Mass. | The brother of figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was sent to jail Monday after failing required alcohol screenings while awaiting trial on manslaughter charges in the death of his father.

Mark Kerrigan blamed cough syrup for the test results, but a judge revoked his bail and ordered Kerrigan to be taken into custody.

Kerrigan had been free on $25,000 bail after pleading not guilty to manslaughter last year.

Prosecutors said Kerrigan failed four breath tests in a half-hour period Saturday night at his home in Stoneham. The readings, which ranged from .025 to .036, were below the legal driving limit of .08, but violate the conditions of Kerrigan’s bail, which included that he not drink alcohol and that he be given random drug and alcohol screenings.

Prosecutors say 70-year-old Daniel Kerrigan died in January 2010 after a fight with his son, who had been drinking. Kerrigan’s lawyer and family say Daniel Kerrigan had a heart condition and his son was not responsible for his death.

“It’s a very serious violation in light of this case and the circumstances,” Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Keeley said during a hearing in Woburn Superior Court.

Kerrigan’s lawyer, Janice Bassil, said Kerrigan told her that he had taken cough syrup because he has a bad cold.

“He informed me that he had taken a bunch of cough syrup,” she said.

Bassil argued that over-the-counter cough syrup can have high alcohol content and asked Judge Joseph Walker to allow Kerrigan to remain free on bail.

“He has been compliant with all of the conditions set for him by probation,” she said.

The judge denied the request, but said he may be willing to reconsider if the defense is able to show that Kerrigan had taken only cough medicine.

Bassil told the judge she plans to try to retrieve the bottle of cough syrup from Kerrigan’s house, have it tested for alcohol content and ask Kerrigan’s mother to submit an affidavit to verify that Kerrigan did drink the medicine.

Michael DelSignore, a Stoughton attorney who specializes in defending people arrested for drunken driving, said there is no way to tell whether the levels of alcohol in Kerrigan’s test results come from alcohol in cough syrup or from alcoholic drinks.

“Breathalyzer machines cannot distinguish between alcohol that comes from liquor and alcohol that comes from cough syrup,” DelSignore said.

Kerrigan, 46, is due in court Thursday for a hearing on a defense motion to suppress statements he made to police at his home and at the police station after his father died.

Kerrigan’s lawyers argue in the motion that Kerrigan did not voluntarily or knowingly waive his right to remain silent due to “severe intoxication.”

His lawyers say he was unsteady and swaying while his booking photo was being taken by Stoneham police and that after he was put in a cell at the police station, he began to vomit. Police called for an ambulance and he was taken to a local hospital.

“The defendant’s compromised physical and emotional state was demonstrated throughout the night,” Kerrigan’s lawyers argue in the motion.

His lawyers also said that when police asked Kerrigan if he wanted to speak with them about the incident with his father, he responded, “Which one? Is it the one where my father tried to throw me down the stairs?”

Kerrigan’s lawyers say he “stated he did not want to talk,” but police “persisted” in questioning him.

Prosecutors have said previously that Kerrigan was in a drunken rage during an argument with his father over the use of the family telephone when the conflict escalated into violence. They said Kerrigan grabbed his father around the neck, fracturing his larynx and causing him to fall to the floor on his back, unconscious.

The defense says the elder Kerrigan death resulted from a long-standing heart condition, not the fight with his son. The Kerrigan family has vowed to help Mark Kerrigan fight the charges, saying they do not blame anyone for the death.

Nancy Kerrigan, who lives in Lynnfield, Mass., won the bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics and the silver at the 1994 Winter Olympics. She was at the center of a saga at the U.S. Championships before the 1994 games, when an assailant clubbed her right knee during practice. An investigation revealed rival skater Tonya Harding had knowledge of the planning of the attack.

 

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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