Day one of prosecution testimony concludes in Karen Read murder trial

DEDHAM, Mass. — Opening statements in the murder trial of Karen Read, the Mansfield woman accused in the 2022 death of her Boston police officer boyfriend, were delivered Monday before prosecution witness testimony got underway at Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham.

WATCH LIVE: First witness is called in Karen Read murder trial after jurors hear opening statements

WATCH LIVE: Opening statements underway in Karen Read murder trial.

WATCH LIVE: First witness is called in Karen Read murder trial after jurors hear opening statements. boston25.com/3UCmwRX

Posted by Boston 25 News on Monday, April 29, 2024

Read is charged with running down John O’Keefe, her Boston police officer boyfriend, and leaving him to die in a blizzard in the town of Canton on Jan. 29, 2022.

Statements by the prosecution and defense wrapped up by noon, with each side staying within a 45-minute time limit imposed by Judge Beverly Cannone.

Norfolk County Prosecutor Adam Lally outlined circumstantial evidence that he says points to Read’s guilt, while defense attorney David Yannetti told jurors that she is being framed and that O’Keefe was beaten and attacked by a dog inside the home of another Boston police officer.

After opening statements, the prosecution called their first witnesses, Paul O’Keefe, the brother of John O’Keefe, as well as Erin O’Keefe, Paul’s wife. Canton Police Officers Steve Saraf then took the stand.

Prosecutors interview Officer Saraf and play the dashcam video from his cruiser as he was first to arrive at 34 Fairview. You can hear screaming at the scene.

Once the prosecution wrapped up court was adjourned for the day. The defense will cross-examine Officer Saraf on Tuesday at 9 a.m.



Read, 44, is charged with running down John O’Keefe and leaving him to die in a blizzard in the town of Canton on Jan. 29, 2022. She has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, motor vehicle manslaughter, and leaving the scene of a collision in connection with O’Keefe’s death.

Read’s defense has argued that she is being framed and that O’Keefe was beaten and attacked by a dog inside the home of another Boston police officer. Prosecutors claim a piece of hair found on the back of Read’s Lexus SUV implicates her in O’Keefe’s death.

The trial will now be held in a smaller courtroom so all jurors can see the witnesses testifying. However, this means less space for families and supporters.

According to Judge Beverly Cannone, when opening statements begin, the defense and prosecution will each get 45 minutes to present their cases. Neither side will be allowed to use exhibits during opening statements.

Boston 25 News legal expert Peter Elikann said it’s important to keep opening statements brief to make an early impression on the jury of what they will see in the trial.

Read’s attorneys, David Yannetti and Alan Jackson, are permitted to use a third-party culprit defense during the trial, not opening statements, as long as it’s “developed” through witness statements and evidence, meaning Cannone is allowing an argument from the defense that someone else killed O’Keefe.

“This almost is what we refer to as a best of. They’re going to really give the broad strokes of their strongest case in the opening. Opening. The defense is a little hamstring here because they were told that they could bring in evidence that other people committed to crime, but they weren’t allowed to do it in the opening. They were allowed to bring it out during the course of evidence,” Elikann explained.

What will be most important to see in this case, Elikann said, is how all the evidence comes out.

“As the trial goes on, we’ll get to the bottom of it and see what’s really the truth. Because every step of the way, we seem to have competing contradictory claims. And once they lay it out in the trial, we’re going to really see it,” Elikann added.

Cannone is also allowing testimony from O’Keefe’s nephew and niece about alleged relationship issues Read and O’Keefe had been dealing with, as well as text messages from O’Keefe about plans to break up with Read.

Cannone has not decided if Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrisey will take the stand.

Cannone questioned hundreds of prospective jurors over five days before the hearing of these motions. The jurors have not yet been sworn in, but there is a plan for 12 regulars and four alternates when the trial begins.

A buffer zone outside the Dedham court is also being challenged by demonstrators and an appeal is being heard by the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

For nearly a year leading up to the trial, Read supporters had gathered on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse with ‘Free Karen Read’ signs and clothing, and her pretrial hearings were packed with spectators.

Before jury selection started, Cannone ordered a 200-foot buffer zone around the courthouse and restrictions on megaphones and clothing to shield jurors from outside influences.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court recently ruled that that buffer zone can remain, but demonstrators claim the buffer zone is a violation of their First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

The prosecution plans to call as many as 87 witnesses when testimony begins, including 23 members of law enforcement. The defense has submitted 77 potential witnesses including John O’Keefe’s father and Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey.

Read’s trial is expected to last up to six weeks.

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