Latest News 2011 February “Profound Impairment” Claimed in Kerrigan Defense

“Profound Impairment” Claimed in Kerrigan Defense

The Mercury News in Silicon Valley has reported that the lawyers for Mark Kerrigan, the brother of Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan, claim that statements that their client made, while highly intoxicated, be inadmissible in court.

It is alleged that Kerrigan’s heavy drinking made him unable to justly volunteer away his right to remain silent.  He, instead, made several impromptu statements to police the night of his father’s death.

Mark Kerrigan is on trial for his role in the death of his father, Daniel Kerrigan, 70, in January of 2010.  He pleaded not guilty to manslaughter in a Woburn, Massachusetts court room.

His attorneys have asked a judge to toss out all of the statements that their client made to police,  including the most self-incriminating – that he admitted to grabbing his father around the neck during an argument between the two men that may have resulted in his father’s death.

Both the family, and Kerrigan’s lawyers, contend that Daniel Kerrigan’s longstanding heart condition is what solely killed him.

Dr. John Fromson, a psychiatrist from Massachusetts General Hospital, testified for the defense that Kerrigan’s blood alcohol level would have been up to .24, three times the legal driving limit in Massachusetts, at the time that he spoke to police.

Hospital tests only showed Kerrigan having a blood alcohol level of .18 – but that test was administered three hours after the altercation.

Fromson concluded that Kerrigan was “profoundly impaired.”

Fromson told Kerrigan’s lawyers that Kerrigan was too intoxicated to have understood that he had waived his Miranda rights, or, even to have understood them as they were read to him.

Janice Bassil, attorney for Kerrigan, said of the persistence of the police to get a statement from her client, “They knew he was plastered—they knew it—and they wanted to get a statement.”

Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Keeley also questioned Fromson.  Fromson told Keeley that he had spent over an hour speaking with Kerrigan several months after his father’s death.   But, Fromson admitted, he didn’t take any notes during their conversation and was unaware of Kerrigan’s history of drinking.

Kerrigan had four convictions on drunken driving charges.

The prosecutors contend that Kerrigan willingly spoke with police personnel the night of the altercation.  The conversation, at times spontaneous, erupted at both the Kerrigan home and at the police station later.

Judge Joseph Walker III has yet to rule on whether or not he will have Kerrigan’s statements removed.  

A police officer testified that Kerrigan admitted to grabbing “his father by the throat” during their fight over using the family telephone.   The elder Kerrigan then fell to the floor.

Many other officers testified about Kerrigan’s belligerence when they responded to the home after receiving a 911-telephone call.  They claimed that he yelled vulgarities at them, and, because he refused to walk to the police cruiser, he had to be physically carried away.

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Categories: Murder/Manslaughter