Sisters who vacationed in Aruba with Read, O’Keefe before his death detail tense moments during trip

DEDHAM, Mass. — Two sisters who vacationed with Karen Read and her boyfriend, John O’Keefe, about a month before his death, testified Wednesday that Read and O’Keefe fought during a New Year’s Eve trip to Aruba in December 2021.

Laura Sullivan, of Pembroke, who the prosecution called to the witness stand in Dedham’s Norfolk Superior Court after the defense grilled Jennifer McCabe over her “hos long to die in the cold” Google search, testified that Read became enraged with O’Keefe during the vacation, accusing him of kissing her sister, Marietta Sullivan.

So far in the trial, prosecutors have put up witnesses who testified that Read and O’Keefe had a stormy relationship before O’Keefe died and several first responders who recalled hearing Read say she hit O’Keefe.

After a night out drinking at several bars, prosecutors say Read dropped O’Keefe off at a party at the Albert family’s home at 34 Fairview Road in Canton just after midnight and intentionally backed over him with her SUV in January 2022. It’s alleged that she drove away and returned hours later to find him in a snowbank.

McCabe has also testified that soon after O’Keefe’s body was found, Read screamed, “I hit him! I hit him! I hit him!” and frantically asked her to conduct a Google search on how long it takes for someone to die of hypothermia.

The defense’s theory is that O’Keefe was actually beaten up inside the Albert home and dragged outside in a snowstorm and that the Albert family is at the center of an effort to frame Read.

Read, 44, of Mansfield, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in O’Keefe’s death.

During testimony Wednesday, Marietta Sullivan, of Plymouth, told the court that more than 30 people were on the Aruba trip, including family members, as well as Read and O’Keefe.

Marietta Sullivan testified that O’Keefe, who she used to refer to as “Johnny” and “Godfather,” was a “big brother” to her and a “family friend.” She also said she had never met Read before the trip.

“He was a very, very dear family friend. He was very close to my sister [Laura]. Subsequently, he became very close to me,” Marietta Sullivan told Assitant District Attorney Adam Lally when asked about O’Keefe. “He was my nephew’s godfather...He was similar to a big brother to me.”

At one point during the trip, Marietta Sullivan said she bumped into a stumbling O’Keefe in the hotel lobby. He had been drinking at the pool bar.

“I said, ‘Whoa, Godfather, are you OK,’” Marietta Sullivan recalled. “He was stumbling into the lobby...I went up to him and I gave him a hug...I pulled back and he was glassy-eyed looking above me. We never made eye contact. It looked like he was looking for somebody.”

After Marietta Sullivan pointed O’Keefe in the direction of a “bank of rooms” he was searching for, she continued to the pool bar when she heard Read scream his name “very loudly” and “angrily” across the lobby.

“’Who the [f***] was that,’” Read demanded of O’Keefe, according to Marietta Sullivan. She said that O’Keefe told Read, “‘Calm down, that’s Laura’s little sister.’”

Marietta Sullivan said she told Read, “Nice to meet you.” Read responded with an expletive, so Marietta Sullivan fired back, “F*** you, too” and walked away.

Laura Sullivan testified that Marietta was “visibly upset” and “frustrated” over the interaction with Read. She also said that O’Keefe called Read “crazy.”

Laura Sullivan told the court that O’Keefe called her at one point during the trip and he said, “‘Apparently, I made out with your sister the other night, according to Karen.’”

Laura Sullivan said she was “shocked” by what O’Keefe told her and immediately sought out her sister to see if it was true.

“‘Absolutely not. That did not happen,’” Marietta Sullivan said when asked if she made out with O’Keefe, according to Laura Sullivan.

Laura Sullivan also told the court O’Keefe “seemed distant” later on in the trip and that he said, “’It is what it is,’” when she asked him if he was “happy.”

Before everyone returned home to Aruba, Laura Sullivan testified that Read apologized to her and said that she “thought” she had seen something that she hadn’t with Marietta Sullivan.

The court is not in session on Thursday. Testimony in the trial resumes Friday.

Get caught up on Wednesday’s testimony:

WATCH LIVE: Day 16 of witness testimony in Karen Read murder. trial

WATCH LIVE: Day 16 of witness testimony in Karen Read murder trial.

Posted by Boston 25 News on Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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