DEDHAM, Mass. — A Massachusetts judge dealt a blow Wednesday to a woman’s efforts for more evidence and subpoenas as she fights a second-degree murder charge in a Boston cop’s death.
Karen Read, the former girlfriend of late Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe, was charged with backing over her boyfriend outside a home in Canton in January 2022 and leaving him to die in a blizzard.
Read’s defense is arguing that prosecutors failed to investigate other people who could have been involved in O’Keefe’s death – including people who attended a party at the home the night before O’Keefe’s body was found.
The homeowner and his relatives told investigators that O’Keefe never came inside the party – and they never saw him. Some of the party attendees are witnesses for the prosecution.
Norfolk Superior Court Judge Beverly Cannone on Wednesday quashed Read’s effort to subpoena Brian Albert – who previously owned the Canton home where O’Keefe’s body was found on Jan. 29. -- and his sister-in-law Jennifer McCabe for live testimony Thursday.
Cannone also denied Read’s motion for a court hearing on her so-far unsuccessful push to get Albert’s cellphone records.
“I understand you want an evidentiary hearing.. there will not be one,” Cannone said.
Earlier this week, Cannone ruled in favor of Read’s motion for animal control records concerning Albert’s German Shepherd.
Albert and McCabe, as well as prosecutors, fought the subpoena.
McCabe’s lawyer, Kevin Reddington, called the subpoena “vexatious and calculated to humiliate and harass the government witness, McCabe.”
Albert’s lawyer, Gregory Henning, fought the subpoena as an “improper taking of a deposition of a civilian witness.”
The judge’s actions Thursday put a wrench in Read’s defense team’s efforts to amass more evidence and cast doubt on the prosecutor’s case.
After the hearing, Read spoke outside of court alongside her attorneys, and claimed her team knows “who did it” and that they’re the only ones “fighting for the truth” amid a “cover-up.”
“It feels like we’re the only ones fighting for the truth about what happened to John O’Keefe. Me, my family, my attorneys, and my team have marshaled every resource to get to the truth. It just feels like no one else wants it,” Read told reporters.
Read was then asked, “Karen, just to be clear, you didn’t do it?” Before responding, she paused and said, “We know who did it...We know who spearheaded this cover-up. You all know.”
“I tried to save his life...I was covered in his blood. I was the only one trying to save his life,” Read added.
“A WIDE-RANGING CONSPIRACY”
Read – a Mansfield women and equity analyst who has worked as an adjunct finance professor at Bentley University - was charged with second-degree murder, motor vehicle manslaughter, and leaving the scene of a collision in connection with O’Keefe’s death.
In Massachusetts, second-degree murder includes when a person intentionally kills another without premeditation.
Read’s defense has questioned the strength and independence of law enforcement’s investigation into O’Keefe’s death.
“The government utterly failed to investigate any suspects other than Ms. Read in connection with this case,” reads an April 12 filing by her attorneys.
Lawyers for Read also described one of the responding state troopers as having a “longstanding close familial relationship” with the McCabes and Alberts.
Prosecutors said that is false.
Read’s lawyers question why law enforcement didn’t search the Albert home or fenced-in bark yard, and why Albert – a long-time Boston police officer - later sold his Canton home.
Norfolk County District Attorney prosecutors have dismissed Read’s requests for cellphone data as a “fishing expedition” seeking to prove a “wide-ranging conspiracy” involving multiple people.
“The motion merely assumes, there no evidentiary support, that such a wide-ranging conspiracy exists and that any such content indicative of said conspiracy must be found within this phone and call detail records and would be relevant,” reads a May 3 filing by the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office. “However, the motion is scant in any evidence that any such statement was ever made by the witness or that such conspiracy ever existed.”
The prosecutors say Read’s team hasn’t cited “even opaque” mention of statements that witnesses made to one another to further any conspiracy or cover-up.
Last month, Read’s lawyers said that cell phone data analyzed by their own expert calls into question the prosecution’s case against Read.
According to Read’s defense filing, a relative of the homeowner searched on Google “ho[w] long to die in cold” at 2:27:40 a.m. hours before O’Keefe’s body was allegedly discovered.
In a May 2 filing, prosecutors said that the Google search didn’t happen at 2:27:40 a.m. on Jan. 29.
Prosecutors did not say when the Google search occurred.
McCabe had told investigators that Read had asked her to Google search: “How long do you have to be left outside to die from hypothermia?” after finding O’Keefe’s body covered with six inches of snow, according to prosecutors.
The defense argued that Google search – as well as call logs and a screenshot of Albert’s contact information – were deleted from the phone before it was turned over to the police.
Prosecutors denied that the witnesses withheld any evidence from the defense, and said that an iPhone user wouldn’t have been able to purposely delete the Google search results they reviewed.
Prosecutors said the deleted screenshot of Albert’s contact information was created at 6:08 a.m. They said that Albert’s actual contact information wasn’t deleted from the phone.
Read’s lawyers’ filing says they found evidence of multiple deleted calls -- including a 6:03 a.m. call to 911.
Prosecutors said their review of call logs showed McCabe’s phone making a 9- and then a 7-second call to Albert’s relative around 6:07 a.m. and then making an unanswered call to Albert at 6:23 a.m.
Read’s counsel is also pointing to cell phone health data suggesting that O’Keefe entered Albert’s home.
Prosecutors call that data unreliable and said the data also shows O’Keefe taking hundreds of steps between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Read’s defense team claimed it was possible the phone was being transported by law enforcement at that time.
Defense lawyers have also argued that the prosecutor’s case against Read relies too much on McCabe’s testimony.
Prosecutors have defended their case against Read as relying on testimony from numerous witnesses – on top of video footage.
“All of the things that counsel states Ms. McCabe did to ‘set the narrative’ are corroborated by other witnesses or video of both,” reads the May 3 filing.
Investigators said witnesses described Read as consuming seven drinks from a “tall cylinder style glass” at a local bar the night of the party, according to prosecutors in a May 3 filing.
One witness said that Read arrived around 11 p.m. and was complaining about her relationship with O’Keefe – but didn’t seem “overly intoxicated.”
A toxicologist estimated that Read’s blood alcohol content level was between .13% and .29% by around 12:45 a.m. The legal BAC level is .08% in Massachusetts.
Prosecutors said police who responded to the 911 call found a “broken cocktail-style glass” near O’Keefe’s body. The prosecutor’s filing doesn’t explicitly say whether it was Read’s glass.
Read dropped off O’Keefe at the party around 12:30 a.m. in a black SUV, according to prosecutors.
One witness said he saw a Caucasian female sitting in a black SUV “staring straight ahead of her” around that time.
Police said they found voicemails and text messages detailing “strains within their relationship, the victim’s desire to end their relationship” and description of their relationship as toxic.
That includes a voicemail left after the two were outside Albert’s home, in which Read “screamed to the victim that she hated him.”
Prosecutors and Read’s lawyers have clashed over just how snowy it was during the early morning hours of Jan. 29.
Prosecutors said one partygoer who called for a ride home around midnight – when it was “lightly snowing – thought she saw a “dark object in the snow” when she left sometime between 1:30 and 2:00 a.m. on Jan. 29.
Read’s attorneys have argued that there was “minimal” accumulation by early morning to have completely blanketed O’Keefe’s body.
Prosecutors said cruiser camera footage and witness testimony directly contradict that.
Shortly before 5 a.m., Read asked O’Keefe’s niece to call McCabe looking for O’Keefe.
Prosecutors say that most of Read’s statements to McCabe were made in the presence of other witnesses -- including O’Keefe’s niece, who confirmed Read telling McCabe on the phone that she last saw O’Keefe at the bar.
The niece “indicated during her interview that [Read] changed her story several times while speaking to Ms. McCabe on the phone, with initially [Read] stating that she and the victim got into an argument and she dropped him off.”
Read, McCabe and another witness ended up looking for O’Keefe and finding him near Albert’s home.
McCabe and the other witness told troopers that Read began screaming to pull over and saying that she saw O’Keefe’s body – even though the other witnesses said his body wasn’t visible amid heavy snow.
A Canton firefighter and an additional witness confirmed that Read asked: “Could I have hit him” and “Did I hit him” when O’Keefe’s body was discovered.
Read’s defense has argued that McCabe falsely attributed statements to Read.
Read told investigators she tried to contact O’Keefe throughout the night with no response. She said she then frantically called his friends and searched for him with them before finding his body and rendering CPR.
Read’s defense team has argued that prosecutors’ case against Read lacks solid physical evidence linking her to O’Keefe’s death.
Her lawyers have asked prosecutors for access to O’Keefe’s clothing, the pieces of taillight, and other trace evidence including DNA and samples taken from O’Keefe’s wounds.
“The defense has been desperately seeking this evidence since the outset of this matter in District Court, because the defense believes it will help to exonerate Ms. Read and confirm her innocence,” Read’s attorney, David Yannetti, wrote in an April 26 filing.
Yannettii claimed that such evidence has been in the custody of the state police crime laboratory for over a year.
“As of the date of filing this motion, April 26, 2023 – 78 days later- the Commonwealth has apparently made no program processing or producing any of this crucial discovery material,” Yannetti said. “Defense counsel continues to be denied access to the most critical evidence in this case for independent testing and analysis.”
Forensic investigators found a hair on the rear passenger side quarter panel. Testing found it was human hair.
Prosecutors haven’t said who the hair belongs to.
McCabe said Read had shown her a cracked right rear taillight on her vehicle before they left to search for O’Keefe.
That day, a state police team found two red and one clear plastic pieces of a taillight, according to prosecutors.
Troopers who went to Read’s parents’ home around 4:30 p.m. said they saw her taillight was shattered and missing a piece of plastic.
Read told investigators she first saw the taillight was broken in the morning and that she didn’t know how she broke it.
Police said they didn’t find any damage to O’Keefe’s car or garage doors, or any fragments or pieces of broken taillight in the victim’s driveway.
Investigators by February 1 found a deep scratch and minor dent on the rear tailgate, as well as two scratches on the right side of the rear bumper. The investigators also found the Lexus’ auditory and visual sensor worked and could detect a six-foot-tall human behind it.
Video footage from a library and temple shows a large black SUV heading in the direction of Albert’s home after midnight.
Prosecutors said Ring footage doesn’t capture Read’s arrival at O’Keefe’s house.
O’Keefe’s Ring camera footage shows Read leaving his home around 5:08 a.m. Police said they saw Read’s taillight was broken on that footage.
The footage – coupled with cell phone data – also indicates the SUV drove in the direction of Albert’s home before going to McCabe’s home, according to prosecutors.
Read’s defense team is asking for original copies of library video footage.
Her lawyers argue that the 5:08 a.m. footage shows Read hitting O’Keefe’s car while backing out of the garage.
Read’s counsel has questioned whether O’Keefe was beaten up by party guests, bit by a dog, and then left for dead.
Hospital medical records detailed O’Keefe’s injuries: including his eyes swollen shut black and blue, a cut on his right eyelid, a cut to the left side of his nose, a two-inch laceration on the back of his head, multiple skull fractures, and six bloody cuts of varied length on his right forearm from his forearm to bicep.
Medical examiner Irini Scordi-Bello testified that skull fractures caused O’Keefe’s eyes and face to swell and grow discolored.
The medical examiner said she saw no signs of an altercation or fight. She described his arm injuries as “scratches caused by a blunt object” in a linear pattern, according to prosecutors.
He was pronounced dead at Good Samaritan Hospital by 7:50 a.m.
Read’s attorneys want animal control records about the family dog, who they claimed: “simply disappeared.”
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