Things to know about the Karen Read murder case, which has ended in a mistrial (2024)

DEDHAM, Mass. (AP) — A judge declared a mistrial Monday after jurors deadlocked in the case of Karen Read, a woman accused of killing her Boston police officer boyfriend by striking him with her SUV and leaving him in a snowstorm.

A jury foreperson told the judge Friday that they hadn’t reached a unanimous verdict despite an “exhaustive review of the evidence.” They were told to continue deliberating. They did but came back Monday afternoon and said it would be futile to continue.

The jury was tasked with deciding whether prosecutors proved that Read drunkenly and intentionally slammed into her Boston police officer boyfriend with her Lexus SUV and left him to die. The defense challenged the evidence and suggested that one or more law enforcement colleagues killed John O’Keefe, dumped his body outside in a panic, and then framed Read to cover it up.

More about the case and the trial:

Who’s who?

Read, 44, had worked as an equity analyst and was an adjunct lecturer in finance at her alma mater, Bentley University. O’Keefe, 46, was a 16-year veteran of the Boston Police Department who was raising his niece and nephew.

Jurors deliberated events that unfolded at the Canton home of Brian Albert, a Boston police detective, after a night of barhopping in January 2022. Brian Higgins, a federal agent who was among those gathered inside, had exchanged flirtatious texts with Read earlier that month.

Things to know about the Karen Read murder case, which has ended in a mistrial (1)

Things to know about the Karen Read murder case, which has ended in a mistrial (2)

The lead investigator was State Trooper Michael Proctor, who was friends with several witnesses and sent offensive texts about Read to friends, family and fellow troopers during the investigation. After the mistrial, Massachusetts State Police announced they were immediately relieving Proctor of duty, saying the move followed an earlier decision to open an internal affairs investigation. He will face a status hearing at which officials could potentially place him on restricted duty or suspend him.

The charges

Read was charged with second-degree murder, punishable in Massachusetts by life in prison with the possibility of parole. She also faced lesser charges of manslaughter while operating a vehicle under the influence, punishable by five to 20 years, and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, punishable by up to 10 years.

The evidence

Pieces of Read’s broken taillight were found at the scene, and a single hair from O’Keefe was found on the rear bumper of Read’s SUV. Prosecutors say that Read repeatedly said, “I hit him. I hit him. Oh my God, I hit him,” to first responders and others. Prosecutors replayed angry voicemails Read left for O’Keefe, painting a picture of a failing relationship. They also questioned her behavior, saying she never cried after O’Keefe’s body was found.

Read’s defense

Read contended that the prosecution’s case is based on lies by officers trying to protect themselves. Her lawyers said the pieces of taillight and the hair were planted at the crime scene, which was left unsecured. They also suggested that O’Keefe might have been beaten up by Higgins, who had flirted with Read through texts, and that the men panicked, dumping his body outside before trying to cover up the crime.

Sloppy detective work?

The case revealed questionable techniques and actions on the part of law enforcement. Proctor, who had personal relationships with several of the people involved, called Read a “whack job” and texted his sister saying he wished Read would “kill herself.” He said that was a figure of speech and that his emotions had gotten the better of him.

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The defense also pointed to sloppy policing: The crime scene was left unsecured for hours; the house wasn’t searched; bloodstained snow was scooped up with red plastic drinking cups; and a leaf blower was used to clear snow. The defense also claims that a prosecution witness conducted an incriminating internet search hours before O’Keefe’s body was discovered and then deleted it, and that others linked with the case destroyed phones and manipulated videos.

Outside adjudicators

A handful of women with posters showed up Friday to counter the self-proclaimed “sidewalk jury” of true crime bloggers and pink-shirted Read supporters, many of them waving the Stars and Stripes, who have gathered outside the Norfolk County courthouse every day since the trial began.

Police officers stood between the two groups, neither of which was particularly pleased.

Things to know about the Karen Read murder case, which has ended in a mistrial (6)

“A hung jury, that would be terrible,” said Paul Harvey, who owns a moving company in East Boston. He said Read should have been acquitted on the first day.

“This is unbelievable; the poor woman has been framed,” said Michael Ward. “This not only hasn’t been proven, but what’s been proven is she’s innocent.”

Demonstrators on the other side called out what they said has been harassment of the O’Keefe family and prosecution witnesses.

“Every day, these witnesses are getting death threats. It is just disgusting to John’s memory,” said Julie Guinto, an administrative assistant who said she doesn’t know the family.

Online duels

Much of the attention was fed by social media, with supporters on both sides routinely trading barbs over the evidence, the lawyers and details from the trial.

“We know, as well as I’m sure the jury knows, that all roads lead to Karen Read,” said Kate Peter, a YouTuber from North Attleborough. She’s been battling online against Aidan Timothy Kearney, aka Turtleboy, whose website has relentlessly questioned the prosecution.

“I am hopeful and faithful they will reach a just verdict and she will be held criminally responsible for her actions in this murder,” Peter said.

A town steeped in the history of Paul Revere

Canton, a solidly middle-class commuter town of 20,000, is best known for the Paul Revere Heritage Site — 9 acres where Revere set up a mill in 1801 to roll the copper that covered the hulls of the newly formed Navy’s boats and the dome of the Massachusetts State House in Boston.

These days, tourists are as likely to pass through the town in search of places associated with Read’s trial.

There are the bars where she and O’Keefe had been drinking that night, including the Waterfall Bar & Grille and C.F. McCarthy’s, just down the street. On the same stretch of downtown is a tattered shop called D&E Pizza & Subs, which got a mention at the trial partly because it was run by Chris Albert, the brother of Boston police detective Brian Albert, who owned the house where O’Keefe’s body was found. Albert sold that house, and the new owners put up a no-trespassing sign to keep onlookers out.

Read’s supporters have turned normally sleepy town meetings into raucous affairs, trying to push out the police chief and supporting an ongoing audit of the department. They blame the police department, which recused itself from the Read investigation, for bungling it. To counter that, lawn signs have popped up declaring support for the police.

Things to know about the Karen Read murder case, which has ended in a mistrial (2024)
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