April 8, 2010 -- The brother of Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was charged with manslaughter today in connection the death of their father in January, an attack prosecutors say was "violent" and "cruel."
Mark Kerrigan, 45, was first indicted in January on charges of assault and battery following the Jan. 23 death of 70-year-old Daniel Kerrigan. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $10,000 cash bail and had been living at the Stoneham, Mass., home where the alleged attack took place ever since.
Now the Middlesex District Attorney's office says Mark Kerrigan's "reckless actions" led to his father's death and they have upgraded the charges against him after a grand jury convened.
"[Mark Kerrigan's] complete disregard for his father's safety and well-being endangered Daniel Kerrigan's life and resulted in the substantial harm that led to his untimely death," said District Attorney Gerry Leone in a statement.
"This defendant should have known that the cruel acts that he committed against his elderly father, including grabbing him by the neck with enough force to cause a fracture, were highly likely to result in substantial harm and endanger his father's life," said Leone.
Mark Kerrigan's family is speaking out against his indictment, issuing a statement in which they said they are "deeply disappointed at the continued prosecution."
"We disagree with the decision to indict and look forward to the facts being considered by an impartial jury," read the statement, issued by the family's spokesperson Nancy Sterling. "The Kerrigan family continues to believe that he is not responsible for the death of their beloved Daniel Kerrigan."
Police responded Jan. 25 to the home of Daniel Kerrigan at 1:30 a.m. and found him "in need of medical attention." He was taken to nearby Winchester Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
According to authorities, the altercation between Mark Kerrigan and his father stemmed from a disagreement over using the house phone to contact a female.
Mark Kerrigan allegedly "became angrier and more aggressive and continued to drink alcohol and argue with his father when refused access to the telephone," according to Leone.
Nearly six hours passed between Mark Kerrigan's father trying to calm him down to when he allegedly attacked his father, according to Leone.
What happened next is characterized by Leone as a "violent physical altercation" where Mark Kerrigan allegedly "pushed, grabbed and shoved" his father and then "forcibly grabbed [his father] around the neck."
Authorities determined that Daniel Kerrigan suffered a compression fracture to his left thyroid cartilage of his larynx which eventually led to his death, but the Kerrigan family has said that they believe the death was a result of a heart attack.
Calls made to Mark Kerrigan's lawyer weren't immediately returned.
"I'll tell you something, it's a shock. It was a massive heart attack. That's how he died, that's it," said Brenda Kerrigan, Nancy and Mark's mother, said earlier this year.
Daniel Kerrigan's official cause of death was ruled to be cardiac dysrhythmia triggered during the violent altercation, according to Leone.
But Mark Kerrigan's ex-wife, Janet Kerrigan, told ABC News'" Nightline" that the allegations of violence came as no surprise.
"Did I think he was capable of killing someone?" said Janet Kerrigan of her ex. "Absolutely. But I'll tell you, I never thought he was capable of killing his father."
Nancy Kerrigan, of Lynnfield, Mass., won the bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, and the silver at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. She won a gold medal at the 1993 U.S. Championships.