Evidence, arguments presented in Karen Read murder trial as jury verdict due

correction

A previous version of this story said that witnesses at the party told the court they saw Karen Read’s car hit her boyfriend. Prosecutors had argued Read’s car hit O’Keefe, but the court did not hear eyewitness testimony. This article has been corrected.

The murder trial of Karen Read — which for months has captured outsize interest, including from true crime fans across the nation — is on the verge of a conclusion.

Jurors have been instructed to reach a verdict on the fate of Read, a former adjunct professor. They will decide whether the evidence supports that she reversed her SUV car to fatally strike her then-boyfriend, Boston police officer John O’Keefe. Read’s team has argued she is the victim of a coverup by his law enforcement colleagues to protect another potential suspect.

Here’s what to know about the case.

  • Read — a former equity analyst and adjunct professor at her alma mater Bentley College, in Waltham, Mass. — is charged with second-degree murder, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. She is also charged with manslaughter while operating under the influence of alcohol, which carries a potential penalty of five to 20 years in prison, and leaving a scene of personal injury and death, which has a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. She denies all charges.
  • Read, 44, and her boyfriend O’Keefe, 46, had been drinking heavily and barhopping with friends on the night of Jan. 28, 2022, according to court testimonies reported by the Associated Press. Read dropped O’Keefe off at the house of his friend — fellow Boston police officer Brian Albert — for a party in the town of Canton just before 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 29.
  • The prosecution argues Read and O’Keefe were in a rocky romance and that she had argued with O’Keefe before dropping him at the party. The prosecution contends that Read hit O’Keefe with her Lexus SUV while making a three-point turn and then drove away, and argued that vehicle data from Read’s SUV along with a broken taillight and hair on the vehicle’s bumper support this.
  • The defense argues that O’Keefe was beaten up at the house party in Canton and wounded before being thrown outside onto the lawn in a snowstorm and framed to appear as if struck by Read. They contend that Albert’s house was never searched for signs of a fight involving O’Keefe, and point to conflicts of interest among investigators of the case and those at the party. The prosecution denies any police coverup or conspiracy.

O’Keefe, who had been a Boston police officer for 16 years, was found unresponsive outside Albert’s home and later pronounced dead at a hospital on Jan. 29, 2022. An autopsy found he had died of hypothermia and blunt force trauma. Read and O’Keefe dated for about two years before his death.

Central to the prosecution’s case was testimony from several first responders that they had heard Read yell: “I hit him. I hit him. Oh my God. I hit him.” Prosecutors, according to the AP, also point to angry phone messages that Read allegedly sent to O’Keefe hours before he died, and a voice message she left O’Keefe moments after she drove away from the house party in which they said she was “seething in rage” and screaming at O’Keefe.

Defense lawyers for Read say O’Keefe was beaten up inside Albert’s home and bitten by Albert’s dog before being brought outside, citing evidence of dog scratches on his body alongside his injuries. They argue Read is a “convenient outsider” framed for his murder and the subject of an elaborate law enforcement cover up to protect the real killer, whom they do not name but imply was at the party. Read did not take the stand during the trial. She told reporters outside the court on Tuesday: “There is no case against me … 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.”

Another point of contention has been connections between now retired officer Albert and the state trooper who led the investigation, Michael Proctor — who has acknowledged sending offensive messages about Read to his friends, family and fellow troopers during the investigation.

Proctor admitted making comments to supervisors about not finding nude photos of Read while looking through her phone, the AP reported. He told the court his remarks had no influence on the investigation and has apologized for his language. Read’s lawyers have also argued there had been several conflicts of interest in the investigation of the case, including that many people attending the house party knew the investigators.

Medical evidence presented to the court has been divided. Some experts testified that they would have expected more bruising if O’Keefe had been hit by a heavy vehicle and suggested he had scratch marks on his arm consistent with dog bites, while others said the injuries were consistent with being hit by a large car.

The case has fascinated those watching nationally and struck a chord in the Massachusetts region. Dozens of Read supporters have been wearing pink and flocking outside Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, Mass., in solidarity with Read.

“She was unjustly charged,” Vicki Walkling, a Read supporter told the AP. “This case has enraptured everybody because it’s unfair. It could happen to any one of us. Any one of us could be framed for a murder we did not commit.”

Others have been holding placards seeking “Justice for John” and accuse Read of lying and murder.

Testimony in the trial began on April 29, and the court heard from 74 witnesses in total, according to Courthouse News Service.

Closing arguments were heard on Tuesday, and the jury began deliberating on its verdict. It is expected to reach a conclusion soon.

First appeared on www.washingtonpost.com

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