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Skater's brother acquitted in dad's death

WOBURN, Mass. -- The brother of figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was acquitted yesterday of manslaughter in the death of their 70-year-old father by a jury that apparently agreed with his defense that the elder man died of heart disease, not from a scuffle between the two.

Mark Kerrigan, 46, was convicted, though, of a misdemeanor assault and battery charge in a January 2010 altercation with Daniel Kerrigan at the family's home in Stoneham, just north of Boston.

Nancy Kerrigan and her mother, Brenda, embraced and cried after the verdict was read; the skater had supported her brother and attended every day of the nine-day trial in Woburn Superior Court.

"My family has never believed at all that my brother had anything to do with my father's death, and he would -- my dad would -- never have wanted any of this," Nancy Kerrigan said outside the courthouse after the verdict, standing with other family members.

Defense attorney Janice Bassil said mother and daughter plan to give victim impact statements when Mark Kerrigan is sentenced today. He faces a maximum 2 1/2 years in a county jail.

"I think they feel some relief," Bassil said outside court. "This has been an enormous ordeal." Another member of the defense team, Hank Brennan, said, "Mark Kerrigan loves his dad and misses his dad, and that really is the foremost thing on his mind."

Prosecutors said Mark Kerrigan caused his father's death after he grabbed him around the neck with such force that he broke cartilage in his father's larynx and triggered heart failure.

Kerrigan's defense lawyers, however, called medical experts who testified that Daniel Kerrigan had 85 percent to 100 percent blockage of three main coronary arteries and that the cardiac dysrhythmia that killed him was likely to have begun before he had any physical interaction with his son.

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