Prosecution rests in the trial of a woman accused of killing her Boston police officer boyfriend


BOSTON (AP) — Prosecutors rested Friday in the case of a woman accused of hitting her Boston police officer boyfriend with her SUV and leaving him for dead in a snowbank.

Karen Read has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and other charges in the January 2022 death of Officer John O’Keefe. The 16-year Boston police veteran was found unresponsive outside a Canton home. He was pronounced dead hours after being taken to the hospital. An autopsy found O’Keefe died of hyperthermia and blunt force trauma. The manner of death was undetermined, a medical examiner testified for the prosecution.

The couple had been to two bars before Read dropped O’Keefe off at a party in nearby Canton, prosecutors allege. They say that after O’Keefe got out of Read’s vehicle, she struck him while making a three-point turn and then drove away, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors are relying on several first responders who testified that Read repeatedly yelled that she hit O’Keefe as well as evidence that Read was legally intoxicated or close to it eight hours later, that her SUV had a broken taillight and that pieces of a broken light were found near O’Keefe.

Canton Police Officer Steven Saraf was among the first to arrive. He recalled Read being upset and saying: “This is my fault. This is my fault. I did this.” He also said Read repeatedly asked, “Is he dead?”

Prosecutors also put several witnesses on the stand who testified the couple had a stormy relationship that had begun to sour. Prosecutors presented angry texts between the couple hours before O’Keefe died. They also played voice messages from Read to O’Keefe that were left after she allegedly struck him, including one left minutes afterward saying, “John I (expletive) hate you.”

Massachusetts State Trooper Joseph Paul testified that an analysis of safety system data from Read’s SUV indicated her vehicle slowed in reverse — going from 24.2 mph to 23.6 mph (39 to 38 kph) — which was consistent with a “pedestrian strike.” He also said O’Keefe’s injuries were consistent with being struck by a vehicle.

O’Keefe had been raising his niece and nephew, and they told jurors that they heard frequent arguments between him and Read. O’Keefe’s niece described the relationship as “good at the beginning but bad at the end,” according to Boston TV station WFXT, though the nephew said they were never physically violent.

The defense has argued Read was framed and that another person was responsible for O’Keefe’s death.

Defense attorneys have repeatedly raised doubts about the police investigation, including the fact that the Canton house was never searched for signs of a fight involving O’Keefe and the crime scene was not secured. They highlighted that police collected blood evidence in plastic drinking cups.

Their case was bolstered by the testimony of the lead investigator, State Trooper Michael Proctor, who acknowledged sending offensive texts about Read to friends, family and fellow troopers during the investigation. He apologized for the language he used but insisted they had no influence on the investigation.

In his texts, he called Read several names, including “wack job.” At one point, he texted his sister that he wished Read would “kill herself,” which he told jurors was a figure of speech.

The defense showed the myriad conflicts of interest among police who were handling the case. Many people at the house party knew the investigators, including Proctor.

They also accused several witnesses of changing their story and pointed out that at least two people at the party — including the homeowner — got rid of their cellphones during the investigation.

The defense argued that investigators focused on Read because she was a “convenient outsider” who saved them from having to consider other suspects. Among those they implicated were Brian Albert, who owned the home where O’Keefe died; his nephew, Colin Albert; and Brian Higgins, a federal agent who was with the group drinking that night.

“There is no case against me,” Read said told reporters Tuesday outside the court. She went on to add: “After eight weeks, it’s smoke and mirrors and it’s going through my private life and trying to contrive a motive that was never there.”

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