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At final pretrial hearing, Karen Read's defense team claims 3 other men could have killed John O'Keefe

Prosecutors, defense argue over what evidence should be allowed in Karen Read murder trial
Prosecutors, defense argue over what evidence should be allowed in Karen Read murder trial 02:50

DEDHAM - Karen Read appeared in Norfolk Superior Court for her final pretrial hearing before her murder trial starts on Tuesday. Judge Beverly Cannone had 30 different motions on which she had to rule, filed by both sides this week, regarding evidence they wanted either included or excluded from trial.

Many of the motions were routine and quickly decided, but one took up most of the hearing: the prosecution's motion that would prohibit Karen Read's lawyers from introducing evidence to pin the blame for John O'Keefe's murder on someone else, also known as a third-party culprit defense.

Read's third-party culprit defense

Early in the hearing, the judge indicated that it was well within the defendant's constitutional right to present her case, but asked her lawyers to give more specifics about exactly what it is they planned to present at trial. In response, attorney David Yannetti detailed that the defense plans to indicate that three different men, or any combination of them, could have killed John O'Keefe.

Those men are Brian Albert, Colin Albert, and Brian Higgins, all of whom were present at the party John O'Keefe was at the night he died, when his body was later found in a snowbank. Defense attorneys suggested bad blood between the men or even a romantic connection between Higgins and Read could be the motive.

Karen Read
Karen Read at a pretrial hearing on April 12, 2024 CBS Boston

"We do not have to prove that Brian Albert or Colin Albert or Brian Higgins or some combination of them intended to kill John O'Keefe," Yannetti explained. "We don't have to prove that any of them attacked John O'Keefe such that he eventually died. [Prosecutors] have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they didn't."

"Not actual evidence" prosecutor says

In response, prosecutor Adam Lally said, "That was a fanciful story, but again there's actually no actual evidence of most of those things or at least the imputations or the connotations the counsel wants to put behind that. Whatever he feels things were observed... What counsel just went through is essentially a list of rank speculation and not actual evidence."

Prosecutors claim that after a night of drinking and fighting, Read hit O'Keefe, her then boyfriend, with the back of her car and left him to die in a snowbank.

Police body camera video from Read arrest

One other motion discussed regards police body camera video that prosecutors want to introduce as evidence. The video takes place in June 2022, after Karen Read was arrested for the second time following a grand jury indictment for murder.

On the video, you can hear Read say to the officer booking her, "Okay you're aware he was beaten up by Brian and Colin Albert? I mean, we're all in on the same joke, right? My taillight was cracked and John...was pulverized."

Judge Cannone ruled on many of the motions in court on Friday but has yet to rule on the third-party culprit defense, admission of the video, or admission of a piece of hair allegedly found on Read's bumper that may or may not be human. She will make decisions before trial begins on Tuesday.

Jury selection starts on Tuesday, and lawyers told the judge they anticipate the case will take six weeks - four for the Commonwealth and two for the defense. This could further complicate jury selection, which will be difficult in such a high-profile case. 

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