CANTON (CBS) – Karen Read, the girlfriend of Boston Police officer John O'Keefe, was released on $50,000 bail Wednesday, shortly after she appeared in court to face charges related to his death over the weekend at the start of the blizzard.
Read, 41, pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, motor vehicle homicide and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle collision causing death in Stoughton District Court Wednesday as new details in the case were revealed.
Prosecutor Adam Lally said Read and O'Keefe, who was off-duty, had been to two bars early Saturday morning and left to go to a home on Fairview Road home in Canton. Read told investigators she dropped O'Keefe off around 12:45 a.m., made a three-point turn and left, but did not see O'Keefe go inside the house.
According to her attorney, she became worried around 4:30 a.m. because O'Keefe hadn't come home so she called him several times but got no response.
The prosecutor said Read reached out to a friend who drove her back to the Fairview Road home where they met the woman who lived there. Read allegedly said, "Could I have hit him? Did I hit him?" as they tried to figure out what happened to O'Keefe. Read also allegedly told one of the women, "I wonder if he's dead. It's snowing. He got hit by a plow."
They then found O'Keefe where he had been dropped off, lying in the snow with severe cuts on his arm and head, eyes swollen shut and bleeding from the nose and mouth.
They called 911 at 6:04 a.m. and started CPR. O'Keefe was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The medical examiner later determined the officer also had multiple skull fractures and hypothermia.
A Canton firefighter-paramedic at the scene told police Read said to her, "I hit him. I hit him. I hit him. I hit him."
The prosecutor said investigators then found a cracked rear tail light on Read's car. She was later arrested.
"She indicated she first saw a broken tail light in the morning and did not know how she broke it," Lally said.
In court Wednesday, her attorney argued for lower bail of $5,000, saying Read has multiple medical issues, including a brain tumor, multiple sclerosis and colitis. The judge however said Read "has plenty of reason to flee" and ordered her held on $50,000 bail.
WBZ-TV I-Team sources said investigators have video of the incident from a Ring doorbell camera and Read's car has been impounded.
O'Keefe's family said he raised his niece and nephew when his sister and her husband passed away.
"John was not only a dedicated police officer, he was an exemplary guardian, son, brother, uncle and friend and we were so fortunate to have him as a part of our lives," O'Keefe's family said. "People talk about someone who would give you the shirt off their back but that was truly who John was, and it is heartbreaking for us to suddenly be talking about him in the past tense."
O'Keefe was a 16-year veteran of the Boston Police Department.
"It's not easy. Obviously, you lose anybody, any member, especially under circumstances like this, it's tough," Boston Police Superintendent-in-Chief Gregory Long told reporters outside court.
"We'll summons John's spirit, pick ourselves back up again and we'll continue to do the job that John loved so much," Long said. "John was a tremendous human being."
Read, who had been in a relationship with O'Keefe for two years, is an adjunct lecturer at Bentley University.
"The university cannot comment further on an active investigation. Our thoughts go out to Officer O'Keefe's family and loved ones," the school said in a statement Wednesday.
After posting bail, Read left the courthouse with her attorneys just before noon and did not speak to reporters.
"I am disappointed in the rush to judgement against my client. I think there was a lot of political pressure on this district attorney's office to bring charges in light of the fact a police officer was the victim here, but I will tell you this is a defensible case. I will tell you that my client has no criminal intent. She loved this man. She is devastated at what happened and she is innocent and that will come out at trial," David Yannetti, Read's attorney told reporters.
WBZ Legal Analyst Jennifer Roman said Read's statements to first responders are going to be hugely important.
"They truly are piecing together a puzzle," Roman said. "There's a lot of pieces that are still missing and there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle they may not ever be able to actually ascertain."
Roman explained the prosecution doesn't need to prove there was intent to hurt O'Keefe, but that there was negligence.
"You can be convicted of manslaughter for acting so recklessly that you cause the death of another," Roman said. "What was the actual cause of death? There is a claim of hypothermia there was some blunt trauma. What caused that blunt trauma, and can that blunt trauma then be linked back to her motor vehicle?"
Read is due back in court March 1.
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