The trial of Mark Kerrigan continues at Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn today. As you no doubt recall, Mark Kerrigan is the brother of Nancy Kerrigan, renown Olympic skater. She has had her own previous dealings with the criminal justice system…as a complainant. This time, she is supporting the defendant, her brother, who is being prosecuted for the Massachusetts homicide of their father.
Of course, in this blog, as in the criminal justice system, Mark Kerrigan is known as the “Defendant”.
There does not seem to be too much debate around the surrounding circumstances of the elder Mr. Kerrigan’s death. He was in some kind of altercation with the Defendant when he collapsed and died. According to the defense, including the deceased’s family members, he died as a result of severe blockage of his coronary arteries.
The Commonwealth disagrees. The chief medical examiner has testified that the death was caused by heart failure triggered by the physical altercation with the Defendant. He has opined that Mr. Kerrigan’s fatal cardiac dysrhythmia — a loss or interruption of a normal heartbeat was not only caused by the altercation, but that he also suffered an acute fracture of cartilage in his larynx, an injury prosecutors say the Defendant inflicted
The medical examiner also testified that he believes Mr. Kerrigan’s heart disease played a role in his death.
Nobody seriously alleges that the Defendant either wished for or intended in any way for his father to die. There was an altercation…a domestic altercation…and the man died. What is at issue is how directly related the actions of the Defendant were.
Years ago, if this matter made its way to court at all, it would have been by way of a civil lawsuit. Clearly, negligence of some sort was at play here, after all, and the elder Mr. Kerrigan paid for it by way of losing his life.
The Commonwealth knew enough not to seek murder charges here because nobody was going to believe that there was any way this was intentional. However, the matter did happen between family members, and one of those family members, the deceased, was elderly. Given those facts alone…not to mention the fame of the last name…a prosecution was going to happen, one way or another.
You may be wondering if, since all the witnesses seem to agree that the deceased’s health and weakened condition were at least partially responsible for the death, why the Defendant stands charged at all. Well, that is probably the point of the trial.
One cannot simply attack someone who is weakened or ill and, if they suffer more injuries than a younger person would, simply shrug it off as an accident. The law is meant to protect the weaker among us. And so, if any person attacks any person (thereby moving the altercation from verbal to physical), the result is a Massachusetts assault and battery.
What happens next is up to whatever happens to the complainant/victim. If he or she dies, then the matter may be prosecuted as some kind of homicide.
Now, in this case, there is also the issue about the condition of the Defendant. What was his mindset? Was he high? Drunk? Emotionally sound?
Well, these are things that may be fleshed out as the trial continues.
However, regardless of whether or not the prosecution offends our senses, as it clearly does for the Kerrigans, there is a legally sound basis for it.
Is it Justice?
Well, we do not get to make that determination. It has apparently been done for us by those we pay to determine such things…the prosecution.
As with any criminal matter, the issues involved can be complex and confusing for those not indoctrinated in how the system defines things like “logic” and “Justice”. This is why, if you are facing charges, you want the aid of a professional. An experienced criminal defense attorney
If you would like to discuss such a matter with me, please feel free to call me at 617-492-3000 to arrange a free initial consultation..
To view the article upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/05/18/mass_examiner_fight_led_to_kerrigan_dads_death/