I know you’ve heard the story by now. Massachusetts is in the news again due to a celebrity crime story. This time, the celebrity, Nancy Kerrigan, isn’t really part of the story.
But the rest of the family is.
Mark Kerrigan, Nancy’s 45-year-old brother (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) has been accused of causing the death of their father, Daniel (hereinafter, “Dad”). No, the Commonwealth does not contend that the Defendant plotted to kill Dad and then executed the plan…it was more tragic than that.
The allegations are that the Defendant wanted to use the telephone, but Dad would not let him. An argument ensued and became physical. Finally, the Defendant is said to have grabbed Dad by the neck. Dad fell to the ground. The Defendant claimed he was faking…but that opinion obviously changed when the police came.
Dad died and the Defendant, allegedly drunk and unruly, was pepper-sprayed and arrested.
The Defendant’s mom, and Dad’s wife, insists that Dad had a heart attack. The medical examiner’s office has not yet pronounced a cause of death.
The Defendant has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail on $10,000 bail. He was described by his lawyer as an army veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder. He has a long history of petty crime. He had also been living at his parents’ home since he was released from jail in 2007.
He spent four months in jail after a domestic assault in 2005 and has at least four drink-driving convictions. The relationship between the Defendant and his folks has not been particularly smooth. In fact, in 2008, they tried to sue him in 2008, claiming he owed them $110,000, and for caring for his dogs. The case was dismissed.
Apparently, the Defendant has also had his battles with drugs and alcohol.
A funeral mass for Daniel Kerrigan will be held Friday.
Attorney Sam’s Take:
This is certainly not the first time we have seen emotional issues, drugs and alcohol at play in tragedy which spreads through a family.
The charges pending against the Defendant should be explained. At this point, he is charged with the assault and battery. This would cover the fight, including the hands around the throat of Dad. I do not know what the “dangerous weapon” is at this time, but it could be anything, such as a shoe.
It is possible, but unlikely, that this is the only charge the Defendant will face. A Grand Jury is likely to be investigating the matter, led by the district attorney, and, particularly when the coroner decides on the cause of death, additional charges will likely come.
“What’s the big mystery, Sam? It’s got to be murder, right?”
No, not necessarily. In this case, there is unlikely to be an accusation that this was the result of some kind of premeditation. In fact, not even the intended result. Assuming what the Defendant’s mother claims is correct, Dad may have had a fatal heart attack.
“So, then, no homicide charges at all for the Defendant?”
I did not say (I mean, write) that. It will likely be alleged that it was the struggle with the Defendant that brought about the heart attack which killed Dad. Depending how they charge it, the Defendant is likely to be facing some kind of manslaughter charges.
The laws regarding homicides are many and a bit complex. In terms of the actual crime charged, it can turn on things like intent and other surrounding circumstances. Was it just an accident? Was it foreseeable? These are the types of questions that are likely to be asked.
And so we get to you.
If you, or a loved one, are suddenly facing homicide allegations, you want to have an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you understand what is coming and what you are facing…not to mention how to best defend against what is coming down the road.
If you wish to discuss it with me, please feel free to contact me at 617-492-3000.
To find the original stories upon which this story is based, please go http://www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/confidential/skating-star-nancy-kerrigans-brother-charged-with-assault-following-fathers-death/story-e6frf96o-1225823989183 , http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2010/01/brother_of_nanc.html and http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/01/27/kerrigan_family_faced_dilemma_with_adult_son/