Clear
90.7 ° F
Full Weather
Sponsored By:

A murderous romance or a frame job? Things to know about Boston’s Karen Read murder trial

Sponsored by:

BOSTON (AP) — The highly publicized trial of a woman accused of striking her Boston police officer boyfriend with her SUV and leaving him for dead in a snowbank finished its seventh week on Friday.

John O’Keefe, 46, died in the Boston suburb of Canton in the early hours of Jan. 29, 2022. Prosecutors say Karen Read, 44, dropped him off at a house party hosted by a fellow officer after a night of drinking, struck him while making a three-point turn and drove away.

Read has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and other charges. Her defense team argues that she has been framed by someone who beat O’Keefe to death inside the home and that the homeowner’s relationship with local and state police tainted their investigation.

A look at the facts and legal arguments:

The prosecution: Lead investigator undone by offensive texts

The lead investigator in the case, Massachusetts State Trooper Michael Proctor, spent two days on the stand. He was a gift to the defense.

Much of Proctor’s testimony revolved around a series of offensive and sexist texts he wrote about Read during the investigation.

Proctor acknowledged that he called Read several names, including “wack job,” in texts to friends, family and fellow troopers. He also admitted that he joked to supervisors about not finding nude photos while searching her phone and texting his sister that he wished Read would “kill herself,” which he claimed was a figure of speech and that “emotions got the best of me.”

He apologized for the language he used but insisted they had no influence on the investigation.

Defense: Investigation marred by conflict of interest

Proctor also admitted he is friends with the brother of Brian Albert and his wife — though he insisted it had no influence on the investigation and that he had never been to their house before O’Keefe’s death. Brian Albert is a Boston police officer who hosted the house party in Canton where O’Keefe’s body was found in the front yard.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Alan Jackson got Proctor to acknowledge that he was drinking buddies with Albert’s brother, Kevin Albert, who is a Canton police officer. He acknowledged they went out drinking several months after O’Keefe died, worked on a cold case together and communicated about coordinating aspects of the O’Keefe case even though the Canton Police Department recused itself from the case.

That testimony bolsters a defense argument that a myriad of relationships among investigators, witnesses and those at the house party biased the investigation and blinded state and local law enforcement officials to the possibility that someone else killed O’Keefe.

They contend that O’Keefe was beaten inside the home, bitten by a family dog and then left outside.

Prosecution: Crime scene evidence points to Read

Prosecutors continued to lean into evidence found at the scene, which they argue shows Read was responsible for killing O’Keefe.

Proctor and Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Yuriy Bukhenik, another investigator, detailed how they discovered pieces of red and clear plastic at the scene that came from Read’s broken taillight. Prosecutors, who argue Read broke her taillight when she backed into O’Keefe, showed photos of the pieces of red plastic in the snow and showed evidence bags which contained the pieces of plastic.

Prosecutors also continued to try and rebut defense arguments that Read broke her right taillight while backing out of her garage and hitting O’Keefe’s vehicle. Prosecutors last week showed footage from O’Keefe’s home security camera showing Read’s SUV pulling out of the driveway early on Jan. 29 — the morning that O’Keefe’s body was found. Bukhenik acknowledged that the video appears to show the back tire of O’Keefe’s vehicle shake slightly as the SUV backs up toward it. But he testified that O’Keefe’s vehicle was not damaged and that nothing was found near his vehicle. Proctor also testified that he saw no damage on O’Keefe’s vehicle nor to the garage door.

Prosecutors also put up DNA analysts, who testified that DNA from a hair sample found on the back of Read’s SUV, the taillight and from Proctor and Bukhenik was tested. Nicholas Bradford, of Bode Technology lab in Virginia, testified there was “strong support” to indicate O’Keefe’s DNA was found and “strong support” that DNA from the two state troopers was not.

Earlier in the trial, defense attorneys suggested the hair found on the vehicle’s exterior may have been planted.

In testimony Friday, Trooper Joseph Paul testified that an analysis of safety system data from Read’s SUV indicated her vehicle slowed in reverse at the time of the incident — going from 24.2 mph to 23.6 mph (39 to 38 kph). That was consistent with a “pedestrian strike,” Paul said, adding that O’Keefe’s injuries were also consistent with being struck by a vehicle.

By MICHAEL CASEY
Associated Press

Feedback