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After mistrial, claims by Karen Read's lawyers raise concerns about jury

Karen Read's lawyers seek to dismiss murder charge after mistrial
Karen Read's lawyers seek to dismiss murder charge after mistrial 03:01

BOSTON - Just days after the judge in the Karen Read case announced a mistrial, lawyers for the Mansfield woman are now looking to dismiss two of the charges against her, claiming to retry her on those counts would violate the double jeopardy clause of the constitution.

Read's team says it has information from a juror and two informants that the panel reached a unanimous decision to find her not guilty of murder in the second degree and leaving the scene of an accident. They are asking the judge to dismiss the case or call the jurors back to court.

"This could be a mistake by the judge"   

Top criminal defense attorney Ed Ryan says this case is unique. "This would be a very unusual inquiry," Ryan said. "Given the facts, that we're going to ask did you reach a verdict on one of the indictments and not report it. This could be a mistake on the jury form, this could be a mistake made by the judge for not asking the specific question have you reached a verdict on any of the counts and it could be a failure of the judge to discuss this matter with the prosecutors and the defense lawyers before she made the final decision to declare a mistrial."

Karen Read Alan Jackson
Defense attorney Alan Jackson and Karen Read at her murder trial at Norfolk Superior Court. Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

During what was a monthslong trial, prosecutors said Read backed her SUV into Boston Police Officer John O'Keefe during a blizzard in 2022 leaving him to die in the snow. The two were dating at the time. Read's lawyers claim she was framed, and that O'Keefe got into a fight at an afterparty at the Canton home of another Boston police officer and was left injured on the front lawn.

Last week, the jury reported being deadlocked. This new information is now raising a number of questions: were the jury instructions clear and did the panel understand that they could report reaching a unanimous decision on some of the charges but not others?

"Did they know they had a choice?"

"Judges normally would not give an instruction that you can give a mixed bag of everything," Former Judge Jack Lu said. "On the other hand, they might say something similar which is that you're obligated to consider every charge separately and decide whether the charge has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt based on my instructions."

In this case, Lu says, "they did not send a verdict slip to the judge saying we find the defendant not guilty of the two charges... It is a concern. Did they know they had a choice?"

Further complicating the case, the law does not allow for inquiry into jury deliberations. If the judge denies the defense motion, Read's lawyers can appeal which would likely delay a retrial.

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