How will 2 major developments impact future of Karen Read murder case, possible retrial?

DEDHAM, Mass. — Monday marked a big day in the Karen Read murder case with two major developments that could impact a future retrial.

Read’s defense team first filed a motion to dismiss two of the three criminal charges that she faces in connection with the death of her Boston police officer boyfriend John O’Keefe.

Attorneys Alan Jackson and David Yannetti filed a motion to dismiss after they said they received unsolicited communications from three of the 12 deliberating jurors. The defense wants Read’s second-degree murder and leaving the scene of a fatal crash charges dismissed.

In a court filing, the defense claims one juror told Jackson that jurors unanimously agreed that Read was “not guilty” of second-degree murder and that the charge was “off the table.” Yannetti said that he heard from two other jurors through informants and intermediaries. One said, “No one thought she hit him on purpose” and that “the prosecution didn’t prove the case.”

The filing also claims that jurors were stuck on the manslaughter while driving drunk charge.

In response to the filing, the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office announced that it’s “looking forward” to picking a new trial date for Read and they’re now “examining the motion in anticipation of filing a response.”

Soon after the motion to dismiss charges was filed, the Massachusetts State Police announced that Trooper Michael Proctor had been suspended without pay amid an ongoing internal affairs investigation into his “unprofessional” behavior following the death of O’Keefe.

Proctor, the lead investigator in the Read case, came under fire for a series of disparaging texts about Read that he sent to friends, family, and supervisors, which he read aloud in court during the trial.

In those texts, Proctor commented on Read’s physical appearance, used vulgar language, suggested he had made up his mind based on evidence as to Read’s guilt, and said he wished Read would kill herself.

After the internal affairs investigation, Massachusetts State Police said it might pursue charges against Proctor that would be adjudicated by a state police trial board.

So, what could these developments mean for a future retrial of Read? Boston 25 legal expert Peter Elikann broke down everything to know.

How likely is the judge to grant the defense’s motion to dismiss?

“I think it needs to be looked into at the very least. The judge is going to have to determine whether that’s true or not. The motion was filed without an affidavit. We haven’t had the judge or anybody actually talk and approach each juror,” Elikann explained. “If they did establish that the jury all voted not guilty on two of those charges, particularly second-degree murder, then I think there would be a strong argument that those charges would have to be dismissed. Otherwise, it’s Double Jeopardy. If she’s already been found not guilty, to try her over again would violate the Double Jeopardy clause of the Constitution.”

According to the filing, the jury wound up reaching 8 “yes” and 4 “no” on the manslaughter while driving drunk charge. Based on all this information, could the prosecution regroup and just focus on that charge in the retrial?

“Absolutely, and perhaps it would even strengthen the prosecution’s case. For example, it was kind of a common consensus among the legal community that they never established a second-degree murder,” Elikann said. They never really proved it or brought up any evidence that she definitely had intent to kill him. At best, it was she could have hit him and maybe not even known about it but they never really proved that. That was kind of the weakest of all charges.”

In your experience, how unusual is it for the jury to reach out to the attorneys in the case and share how things played out?

“Jurors often do reach out to an attorney or they’ll go to the media and talk about the case afterwards. That part’s not unusual. But this part is really one for the books if it’s true that they found her not guilty on two of the counts and it wasn’t mentioned to the judge,” Elikann said. “One theory is perhaps they thought it was an all-or-nothing situation.”

The lead investigator in the case, Michael Proctor, has now been suspended without pay by the state police for his actions related to this case. What impact is that going to have and is there any chance he takes a stand in the retrial?

“This was the harshest they could do -- suspension without pay. Yes, most certainly, I suspect one way or another he will be testifying in the next trial,” Elikann said. “If the prosecution doesn’t call him, the defense certainly can and would want to. I don’t know how much worse it’s going to get because certainly by all accounts he was dragged through the mud and kind of vilified. There wasn’t a great deal of sympathy for him.”

Elikann added, “It’s always unusual if the prosecution doesn’t call the lead investigator of a case. I would see the defense wanting to definitely call him and there’s nothing that can be done to stop the defense from doing so.”

A court session has been scheduled for July 22 to determine a date for a retrial in the Read murder case.

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