WOBURN — The manslaughter trial for Mark Kerrigan began with opening statements from the prosecution and defense in Woburn Superior Court Monday morning.
Mark Kerrigan pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and assault and battery on a person over 60 years of age stemming from a struggle Jan. 24, 2010 with his 70-year-old father Daniel Kerrigan at the family home in Stoneham.
Prior to opening statements, Middlesex Superior Court Judge S. Jane Haggerty provided the jury with a preliminary overview of their responsibilities as jurors and also some information pertaining to the case.
The prosecution depicted Mark Kerrigan as "drunk, abusive, and physically violent toward his father."
The prosecution also claimed that Mark Kerrigan grabbed his father by the throat with such force that he crushed the left side of his larynx while shoving him to the floor, "...all over wanting to use the house phone," said Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Keeley.
Keeley described Daniel Kerrigan as an "active man" who was "a good neighbor, loving father and grandfather." She added that he was a welder during his full-time work days, but had experienced some medical issues including dealing with heart disease and high blood pressure for several years as well as diabetes since 2008.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Janice Bassil claimed that Daniel Kerrigan's death was not Mark Kerrigan's fault but because Daniel Kerrigan was a "very, very sick man" suffering from several serious conditions, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and three significantly blocked arteries.
Douglas Meahl, of Stoneham, described Daniel Kerrigan as a nice guy whom he borrowed tools from and eventually became good friends with. Meahl noted how Daniel Kerrigan wasn't as active as he had been in the past and unable to complete some tasks around the house without needing to take breaks. However, he wasn't aware of the different ailments Daniel Kerrigan was dealing with because "he wasn't the type to let on about things like that."
Days prior to his death, family members claimed Daniel Kerrigan's "complexion didn't look well" and Jean Bergeron, 76, Daniel's sister, confirmed during her testimony that his complexion was "very grey and pale." Bergeron added that Daniel had been suffering stiffness in his neck during her visit with him and Brenda, Daniel's wife, before leaving the Kerrigan's home around 11 p.m. Jan. 23, 2010.
Despite their best efforts trying to revive Daniel Kerrigan, Stoneham firefighter David Eastman and then-Action Ambulance paramedic Joseph Amello testified that they were unsuccessful resuscitating Daniel and that he was "basically clinically dead" upon arrival at Winchester Hospital, said Amello.
The prosecution entered a 911 tape, featuring Brenda Kerrigan and Mark Kerrigan's voices, into evidence and played it during the trial.
"My husband is on the floor, and I don't really know what is wrong with him," said a distraught Brenda during the call. "... He fell on the floor."
Mark Kerrigan, who could be heard cursing in the background, eventually spoke with a dispatcher during the call, saying his father "seemed to have (had) a heart attack."
Stoneham Police Officer Jonathan Mahoney, who responded to the Kerrigan household moments after the 911 call during his patrol in the Redstone Shopping Center area shortly before 1:30 a.m. Jan .24, 2010, discussed his observations from the scene of the altercation, noting that pictures were on the counter and others hung from the wall askew. He then proceeded to the basement, where he found Mark Kerrigan trying to conceal something between a chair and sofa, which he later discovered to be a bottle of Scotch and Poland Spring water bottles filled with chewing tobacco spit.
Mahoney testified that Mark Kerrigan told him "he grabbed [Daniel Kerrigan] by the neck, and that he fell to the floor and was faking it." After being placed in handcuffs and read his Miranda rights, officers struggled to get Mark Kerrigan upstairs as he was "extremely uncooperative" and "swearing."
Mark Kerrigan was later transported to Melrose-Wakefield Hospital for further medical evaluation after he vomited in his jail cell and had a noticeable hematoma on his forehead, according to Amello.
Mahoney's testimony will resume Tuesday at 9 a.m. when the trial continues. It's unclear which side, if any, former Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, who was present for the trial, may need to testify for.