Witness in Karen Read trial says she saw ‘black blob’ in snow on night John O’Keefe died

DEDHAM, Mass. — A woman who was at the Albert family’s home in Canton for a birthday celebration on the night Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe died testified Tuesday in the Karen Read murder trial that she saw a “black blob” in the snow and an SUV out front.

Read, 44, of Mansfield, is facing charges including second-degree murder in the death of O’Keefe, who was her boyfriend at the time.

WATCH LIVE: Day 11 of witness testimony in the Karen Read murder trial.

WATCH LIVE: Day 11 of witness testimony in the Karen Read murder trial.

Posted by Boston 25 News on Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Julianna Nagel, a friend of Brian Albert Jr., explained to the court that a group of friends had been drinking, eating, and listening to music in celebration of Albert Jr.’s birthday before O’Keefe was found dead outside the home at 34 Fairview Avenue in January 2022.

While awaiting a ride home around 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 29, Nagel said she looked out the window into the driveway and spotted a black SUV near the mailbox, but it was gone by the time she departed for home.

Upon walking outside to leave, Nagel said she spotted “something out of the ordinary.”

“I did notice something out of the ordinary, like a black blob, near the flag pole,” Nagel said in response to questioning by Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally. “I did say out loud I saw something but I was intoxicated.”

Nagel was then grilled by Read’s defense team, with attorney David Yannetti asking, “If you had seen a person in the snow lying there you would have done something about it, correct?... You didn’t see a body on that lawn?”

Nagel, who ultimately got a ride home from Brian Albert Jr.’s aunt and uncle, Jen and Matt McCabe, said that she never asked them to stop despite noticing an object on the lawn.

“I don’t know what I saw but I saw an object,” Nagel testified.

Sarah Levinson, a longtime friend of Brian Albert Jr., testified that the atmosphere inside 34 Fairview Road was free of conflict and arguments during the birthday party. She also said she had never met Read or O’Keefe.

Levinson, who also got a ride home from the McCabe’s, told the court that she was looking down when she walked out of the home because “she wore shoes her mother told her not to wear” in a snowstorm.

Brian Albert Jr.’s sister, Caitlin Albert, was the first witness on the stand Tuesday. Her father, Brian Albert, owned the home at the time of O’Keefe’s death.

Caitlin Albert was grilled by the defense about her relationship with Canton Firefighter Kaitie McLaughlin, who was one of the first responders called to the home. They both attended high school together and shared mutual friends. Yannetti had previously accused McLaughlin of perjury over her apparent attempt to minimize her connection to Albert.

McLaughlin and Albert were friends on social media and photographed together at a local beach about a decade ago, although she insisted they were only acquaintances and that she didn’t know it was Albert’s home when she responded to the call.

Albert testified that she left her home with her boyfriend, Tristan Morris, around 1:45 because she didn’t want to get snowed in. She told Yannetti that she never noticed anything unusual on her front lawn as she left.

Morris also told the court that he didn’t notice anything in the snowy yard as he sat in the driveway waiting for Albert to come outside.

It’s alleged that Read didn’t discover O’Keefe’s body until about 6 a.m. on Jan 29. First responders have testified that she was hysterical and inconsolable.

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.

Prosecutors claim Read drunkenly struck O’Keefe with her luxury Lexus SUV while making a three-point after dropping him off at the home. They allege she fled the scene and left him to die.

Brian Albert, along with his wife, Nicole, testified that selling their home and re-homing their dog had nothing to do with O’Keefe’s death. Julie Albert, the wife of current Canton selectman Christopher Albert, was also questioned about her connection to Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor, the lead detective assigned to investigate the death of O’Keefe.

Earlier in the trial, testimony focused on a busted cocktail glass and a piece of broken taillight in the snow. The prosecution said the taillight and other evidence led them directly to Read.

Friends who were out at two Canton bars with Read and O’Keefe in the hours before his death have testified that the two appeared to be “affectionate and loving.”

When the trial first started, testimony from first responders focused on Read’s demeanor and the words she uttered at the crime scene.

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