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Family connected to house where Boston police officer’s body was found outside in snow testifies

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DEDHAM, Mass. (AP) — A highly anticipated trial involving a woman accused of striking her Boston police officer boyfriend with her SUV and leaving him for dead in a snowbank outside a home entered its ninth day on Friday in Massachusetts.

John O’Keefe died in the Boston suburb of Canton on Jan. 29, 2022.

The case has garnered national attention because the defense alleges that state and local law enforcement officials framed girlfriend Karen Read and allowed the real killer to go free.

A look at the facts and legal arguments:

WHAT ARE THE CHARGES?

Karen Read, 44, of Mansfield, Massachusetts, has been charged with second-degree murder, among other charges, in the death of John O’Keefe, 46. The 16-year police veteran was found unresponsive outside the home of a retired Boston police officer.

After a night out drinking at several bars, prosecutors say Read dropped O’Keefe off at a house party just after midnight. As she made a three-point turn, prosecutors say she struck O’Keefe before driving away. She returned hours later to find him in a snowbank.

Prosecutors are trying to show that Read’s actions were intentional. To do that, Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally said evidence would show that the couple’s stormy relationship had begun to “sour” in the month before O’Keefe died and that the two got into arguments.

Read’s lawyers have alleged there was a cover-up involving members of several law enforcement agencies. They say O’Keefe was beaten inside the home, bitten by a dog and then left outside.

DID FAMILY CONNECTIONS UNDERMINE THE INVESTIGATION?

The prosecution called the former homeowners on Friday to testify about events leading up to the discovery of O’Keefe.

Brian and Nicole Albert, a married couple who had lived in the Canton home until last year, testified that they gathered with relatives at a local bar the night of Jan. 28, 2022. They said they saw O’Keefe walk in with Read and sit near Nicole Albert’s sister and husband.

They said people seemed to be having a good time. They did not speak to Read, but Nicole Albert said she didn’t see any signs that Read was under the influence of alcohol. Brian Albert, a retired Boston police officer, said he knew who O’Keefe was and that their relationship was “cordial.”

Both Brian and Nicole Albert said their son was about to celebrate his birthday. As the bar was closing, family and friends gathered at the house to pay him a visit. It was snowing outside. They said O’Keefe and Read did not come to the house. The group had some drinks and the Alberts testified everyone left by 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 and they went to bed.

Between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 29, Nicole Albert’s sister, Jennifer McCabe, came bursting into the bedroom. She seemed hysterical and said, “He’s out in the snow. We found him out in the snow. We don’t know if he’s OK,” Nicole Albert recalled.

Albert said she responded, “What are you talking about?” and first thought that something had happened to a family member.

The Alberts described that they and family members were in a state of shock.

“It was an unbelievably chaotic morning,” Brian Albert said.

The couple talked to Lt. Michael Lank at their home. Brian Albert said he knew Lank, but not socially.

DID PHONE CALLS PLAY A ROLE?

Earlier Friday, another family member, Julie Albert, was questioned by the defense about 67 phone conversations she had in 2022 between February and September with the sister of the lead investigator on the case, Trooper Michael Proctor. One call was on the day Read was arrested and three were when she was arraigned.

Julie Albert is married to Brian Albert’s younger brother, Christopher. She also confirmed that she had Proctor’s personal cellphone number and that the two had had a short phone conversation after she was interviewed by him on Feb. 10. She said she had his number from years ago.

Julie Albert also confirmed she gave Lank’s personal cellphone number to McCabe.

Earlier in the week, the defense focused on Lank’s relationship with Christopher Albert, a high school classmate.

Read’s defense team has focused heavily on connections between police and the Albert family. They are trying to argue that these relationships biased the investigation and blinded state and local law enforcement officials to the possibility that someone else killed O’Keefe.

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