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Mark Kerrigan Found Not Guilty of Father's Death

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Mark Kerrigan did not cause his father's death. That was the message from a Massachusetts jury Wednesday that found Kerrigan not guilty of killing his father during a violent argument in the family's home on the night of Jan. 25, 2010.

The jury did convict Kerrigan, 45, of a separate charge of assault and battery -- a crime that carries a possible sentence of 2.5 years.

Kerrigan's famous sister, 41-year-old Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan, began to cry as her brother Mark entered the courtroom to hear his fate this morning. She spoke to reporters briefly after the verdict was read. "My family has never believed that my brother had anything to do with my father's death."

But prosecutors contended Mark Kerrigan -- who has a long history of substance abuse and run-ins with the law -- was enraged and drunk the night of 70-year-old Daniel Kerrigan's death.

The two had been arguing about whether or not Mark could use the phone that night. Prosecutors said that during the argument Mark Kerrigan grabbed his father around the neck, causing cartilage in his larynx to tear and triggering a cardiac event that lead to Daniel Kerrigan's death.

During the six-day trial, defense attorneys countered that Daniel Kerrigan's death was caused by his history of heart problems and had nothing to do with Mark Kerrigan's actions that night. Janice Bassil, one of Kerrigan's defense attorneys, said, "This was an enormous ordeal for the family. Are they relieved that this is almost over? Yes."

Nancy and Brenda Kerrigan, Daniel Kerrigan's wife, have steadfastly stood by Mark Kerrigan since the incident occurred. During the six-day trial, mother and daughter sat next to each other as they listened to the often painful testimony.

Mark Kerrigan has served time in jail on various charges including assault. At one point, Daniel and Brenda Kerrigan even sued their son, according to court documents obtained by the Boston Herald, claiming he owed them thousands of dollars that he refused to pay back. The money was to cover his living expenses over several years, and the list included $31,870 in mortgage payments, $1, 336 for heating oil and $197 for cat food. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed.

And then on Jan. 25, 2010, Brenda Kerrigan called 911 to report that her husband had fallen. The 911 operator -- hearing a commotion -- asked whether there was fighting in the background and Brenda Kerrigan said, "Oh, yes." Mark Kerrigan took the phone and told the operator his father "seemed to have a heart attack."

Daniel Kerrigan was pronounced dead at Winchester Hospital a short time later.

The prosecutors initially charged Kerrigan with assault but upgraded the charges a short time later. When asked Tuesday if they overreached in charging Mark Kerrigan with involuntary manslaughter, DA Gerald T. Leone Jr. said "I know we charged this case right...under the facts, under the law." And, Leone added, "Daniel Kerrigan wouldn't be dead if not for the actions of Mark, an angry, belligerent, intoxicated 45-year-old man."

Mark Kerrigan will be back in court Thursday to hear his sentence on the assault-and-battery.

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