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Mark Kerrigan seeks details on charge

WOBURN, Mass. -- A lawyer for Mark Kerrigan, the brother of champion figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, wants prosecutors to give a more detailed explanation of the manslaughter charge filed in the death of their father.

Prosecutors have said Daniel Kerrigan, 70, died following a violent argument in the family's Stoneham, Mass., home on Jan. 24. A grand jury later indicted the younger Kerrigan for manslaughter.

Defense attorney Janice Bassil argued in Middlesex Superior Court on Wednesday that the state should be required to choose the legal theory behind the charge by specifying whether it believed death was the result of the defendant's "wanton or reckless conduct" or a physical attack.

Prosecutors have said Mark Kerrigan was in a drunken rage when he grabbed his father around the neck and damaged his windpipe. Bassil said she was not sure if prosecutors were alleging that the grabbing around the neck led to death.

Failure to disclose the theory before trial could lead to confusion during jury deliberations and force the defense "to ride two horses at the same time" in trial preparation, Bassil said.

Elizabeth Keeley, an assistant district attorney, said prosecutors are not required to say which manslaughter theory they are pursuing and that there was no "mystery" to what the state was trying to prove. She accused Bassil of "taking a simple and straightforward case and complicating it."

Judge John Lu took the arguments under advisement. He did set April 29 as the date for jury selection in the trial.

The judge has yet to rule on a separate defense motion to dismiss the charge against Kerrigan. Bassil has said the elder Kerrigan's death resulted from a long-standing heart condition, not the fight with his son.

The defense lawyer said prosecutors inaccurately portrayed the altercation as a "violent and prolonged struggle" in its presentation to the grand jury and has also criticized prosecutors for not calling Mark Kerrigan's mother, Brenda, to testify before the panel.

Brenda Kerrigan told authorities she saw her son and her husband "in a bear hug," pushing each other, but did not see any other physical interaction between them.

Prosecutors said Mark Kerrigan's actions set in motion his father's death, which was listed by the medical examiner as being caused by "cardiac dysrhythmia" -- a loss or interruption of a normal heartbeat that can lead to cardiac arrest.

The family has criticized the medical examiner's ruling and vowed to help Mark Kerrigan fight the charges, saying they do not blame anyone for the death.

Nancy Kerrigan, who lives in 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.

She was at the center of a saga at the U.S. Championships before the 1994 Games, when an assailant clubbed her right knee during practice. An investigation revealed rival skater Tonya Harding had knowledge of the planning of the attack.