A murderous romance or a frame job? Key things to know so far about the Karen Read trial

DEDHAM (AP) — A highly anticipated trial began in Dedham, Massachusetts, this week involving a woman accused of striking her Boston police officer boyfriend with her SUV and leaving him for dead in a snowbank.

John O’Keefe died in Canton, a suburb about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Boston, on Jan. 29, 2022.

The case has garnered national attention because the defense alleges state and local law enforcement officials have framed her and allowed the real killer to go free.

Here are the facts and legal arguments in the case:


Karen Read, 44, of Mansfield, Massachusetts, faces several charges including second-degree murder in the death of John O’Keefe, 46. The 16-year police veteran was found unresponsive outside the home of a fellow Boston police officer.

After a night out drinking at several bars, prosecutors say Read dropped O’Keefe off at a house party just after midnight. As she made a three-point turn, Read allegedly struck O’Keefe before driving away. She returned hours later to find him in a snowbank.

Part of what prosecutors are trying to do is show Read’s actions were intentional. To do that, Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally started offering up evidence showing the couple had a stormy relationship that had begun to “sour” in the month before O’Keefe died. The prosection’s first witness, O’Keefe’s brother Paul, testified they would regularly argue including over what Read fed his two adopted children and that he witnessed a 2021 fight the couple had in Cape Cod over how O’Keefe treated her.

Paul O’Keefe’s wife, Erin, testified that Read told her the couple fought in Aruba after she caught O’Keefe kissing another woman.


In their opening statement, the defense team laid out plans to portray the investigation into O’Keefe’s death as shoddy and undermined by the close relationship investigators had with the police and other law enforcement agents at the house party.

They argued investigators focused on Read because she was a “convenient outsider” and that prevented them from considering other suspects. They plan to argue someone other than Read was responsible for O’Keefe’s death but have only floated a theory that he was beaten inside the house and left for dead outside.

They also criticized investigators for failing to search the house where the party was held to see if a fight had occurred and argued his injuries were consistent with being beaten up.


Prosecutors appeared early on to be relying on Read’s own words to get a conviction. Most of the first week has been dominated by first responders, who detailed a harrowing scene that morning in January 2022.

They came upon O’Keefe lying face up and Read, distraught and screaming near the body, appearing to have blood on her mouth from giving CPR.

The most incriminating testimony this week came from several first responders who recalled Read telling them loudly and repeatedly that she “hit him,” though she never said with her SUV.

Another witness, a police officer among the first on the scene, testified Read said this was her fault and that she was responsible, although she didn’t say how she was responsible.


The defense has worked to undermine the credibility of the first responders testifying for the prosecution. They pointed out mistakes on a police dispatch log, including the wrong address where O’Keefe’s body was found.

They also got one witness, who testified to hearing Read say O’Keefe’s death was her fault, to acknowledge he never wrote that in a police report. They also questioned another witness’ memory and suggested another may have been too focused on saving O’Keefe’s life to be able to hear Read say she hit O’Keefe.

The defense also showed a video from the scene to suggest that one first responder, who claimed he heard Read tell him she hit O’Keefe, was not shown talking to her.

They also tried to plant doubts in the jury’s mind about the overall investigation, getting several witnesses to say they never heard Read say she hit O’Keefe nor did they see dozens of pieces of her broken taillight at the scene, evidence which prosecutors say shows she backed into him.


The trial’s first few days also detailed the futile efforts of first responders to save O’Keefe. They found him face up when they arrived just before dawn on Jan. 29.

One witness testified O’Keefe wasn’t breathing nor did he have a pulse. Another said his body temperature was only 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 Celsius), which he described as extreme hyperthermia.

O’Keefe’s condition never changed, despite first responders’ lifesaving efforts on the way to a local hospital. He was pronounced dead at the hospital and an autopsy later found he died of hypothermia and blunt force trauma.

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