By Marcia Scott Harrison
WOBURN, Mass (Reuters) - Mark Kerrigan, Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan's brother, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison on Thursday for assault and battery of his elderly father who died during their physical struggle.
Kerrigan, acquitted of the stiffer charge of manslaughter in his 70-year-old father's death, was given the maximum possible sentence by Judge Jane Haggerty in Middlesex Superior Court.
The judge said Kerrigan has "serious alcohol issues" and ordered him to undergo treatment programs for anger management, alcohol abuse and battering while in prison.
Speaking at the sentencing, Nancy Kerrigan sought leniency for her brother and asked the judge to "consider the hardship and trauma my family has suffered."
"This has been a long and trying experience which we are hoping to bring to closure," she said, in tears with her voice cracking with emotion.
The jury returned its verdict on Wednesday in the trial that began on May 13.
"None of us has really had a chance to grieve over the loss of our father. Any sentence for Mark would only serve to extend an unnecessary situation that already seems never ending," the two-time Olympic medalist said in court. "We ask that you please send him home so that he can rejoin our family."
As she spoke, she stood arm-in-arm with her mother Brenda. Nancy Kerrigan did not testify at the trial because she was not present at the time of the incident.
Prosecutors, who said Mark Kerrigan had a criminal record dating back 30 years, argued at trial that Daniel Kerrigan died from cardiac dysrhythmia triggered by the struggle with his son in an argument over using the family telephone on January 23, 2010.
The ice skater and her family stood by her brother throughout the trial, saying the death was not his fault and that the elder Kerrigan had a preexisting heart condition.
Nancy Kerrigan was thrust into the spotlight ahead of the 1994 Winter Olympics, when she was clubbed just above the knee at skating championships in Detroit in an attack planned by skating rival Tonya Harding's ex-husband and bodyguard.
She recovered and went on to win a silver medal seven weeks later at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. She also won a bronze medal at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)