Watch CBS News

Karen Read's defense attorney grills witness Jennifer McCabe over Google searches

Witnesses describe incident where Karen Read accused John O'Keefe of cheating on her
Witnesses describe incident where Karen Read accused John O'Keefe of cheating on her 02:42

DEDHAM – Jennifer McCabe, a key witness in the Karen Read murder trial, was grilled Wednesday about her Google searches the morning Boston police officer John O'Keefe's body was found in the snow outside a Canton home. Jurors also heard from a woman who said she was angrily confronted by Read weeks before O'Keefe's death.

Read is accused of hitting and killing O'Keefe, who she was dating at the time of his death, with her SUV and leaving him to die in the lawn of 34 Fairview Road in Canton during a snowstorm in 2022. Her defense says she is being framed and O'Keefe was killed during a fight inside the home, then brought outside.

The trial is taking place inside Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, Massachusetts. 

In addition to McCabe, Kerry Roberts was among those who took the stand Wednesday. McCabe and Roberts were with Read when O'Keefe's body was found.

Tension during a trip to Aruba

Laura Sullivan, a friend of O'Keefe, testified Wednesday afternoon. She described him as her longtime "support system."

She was with Read and O'Keefe on a trip to Aruba around New Year's Eve, just weeks before his death, along with dozens of other people.

Laura Sullivan described seeing her sister Marietta visibly upset by the pool on New Year's Eve. A short time later, she saw O'Keefe. Sullivan testified that O'Keefe's cell phone was lighting up with several texts or calls in a row, and she asked if he had to take Read's call.

"He said, 'Yeah, she's crazy. I gotta take this,'" Sullivan testified.

Sullivan said a short time later, she was "shocked" to hear O'Keefe say "Apparently I made out with your sister the other night, according to Karen."

She also testified about a conversation she had with O'Keefe later in the trip.

"I said, you know, 'Are you happy?' And he kind of rolled his eyes and shrugged it off. And I said something along the lines of 'Life is too short to not be happy.' And he said 'You know Laura, it is what it is.'"

According to Laura Sullivan, before Read and O'Keefe left to return home to Massachusetts, Read apologized for accusing her sister of kissing O'Keefe.

"Karen grabbed me and she said 'Hey, I'm sorry. I thought I saw something that I didn't and I'd like to pay for some of your sister's room. I said 'It's absolutely not necessary, just an apology will do.'"

Laura Sullivan said that after O'Keefe's death, Read texted her to share the news. According to Laura Sullivan, she asked Read what happened and she responded "I don't know. We were both at the same party. I didn't go in. I went home."

Witness confronted by Karen Read

Marietta Sullivan, Laura's sister, was the final witness of the day on Wednesday. She testified what she remembered happening in Aruba.

She said she ran into O'Keefe in the hotel lobby, and noted he was apparently intoxicated. She said she gave O'Keefe a hug and then heard a woman angrily yell "Who the f--- was that?" She learned that it was Read who had yelled at her.

Marietta Sullivan said O'Keefe told her "Calm down, that's Laura's little sister."

"[Read] very loudly told me to go f--- myself across the lobby, and I said 'Yeah, f--- you too' and walked away," Marietta Sullivan testified. 

Prosecutor Adam Lally asked Marietta Sullivan what she told her sister when asked if she was kissing O'Keefe. 

"I absolutely was not," Marietta Sullivan recalled telling her sister.

Outside court Wednesday, Karen Read was asked about the interaction. "There was a small issue and that was the extent of it," Read said. 

John O'Keefe found in snow

Earlier in the day, Kerry Roberts testified about January 29, 2022, when she went out searching for O'Keefe along with McCabe and Read. She said that as the three women arrived at 34 Fairview Road, Read began screaming, then started kicking the door and asking to get out.

"'There he is, there he is! Let me the f--- out of this car,'" Roberts testified that Read said. "I looked at Jen [McCabe] and said 'She's crazy.' And I opened the door and sat back and watched as she ran over to a mound of snow."

Lally played police dashboard camera video that shows first responders arriving on scene after O'Keefe's body was found. Roberts began crying as the video played.

"I ran over and I dug his head out of the snow," Roberts said. 

Roberts also broke down in tears while describing learning that O'Keefe had died at Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton.

Kerry Roberts introduced the jury to the idea that jealousy may have been at play. "Well, he dated a lot of people," Roberts said.

In fact, Jen McCabe said how Kerry described Karen compared to John O'Keefe's past girlfriends. "She said something like, 'John really loved Amy and, in my eyes, Karen was just a babysitter with benefits,'" McCabe said.

Kerry Roberts testified that Karen speculated O'Keefe could be with an ex-girlfriend as the women searched for him that snowy morning. 

After Lally completed direct questioning, the defense chose not to cross-examine Roberts.

Kerry Roberts describes injuries she saw to John O'Keefe after he was discovered during the Karen Read murder trial at Norfolk Superior Court, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, in Dedham, Mass. Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger via AP, Pool

"We drank so much, I don't remember anything"

Under earlier questioning from Lally, Roberts described her relationship with O'Keefe. Roberts said O'Keefe was "one of my closest friends."

Roberts said Read frantically called her at 5 a.m. on January 29, 2022 to tell her that O'Keefe had not come home. According to Roberts, Read told her "I don't remember anything from last night, we drank so much, I don't remember anything."

When Roberts learned O'Keefe was missing, she called police and hospitals to see if there had been any accidents or if O'Keefe had been brought in. Roberts said Read initially indicated that O'Keefe may have been hit by a plow. 

Roberts testified that while leaving O'Keefe's home to search for him, Read made references to her broken taillight.

"She said 'Do you think I hit him? Do you think I hit him? And I said 'No I think you probably hit something, but we should go look for him," Roberts testified. 

Jennifer McCabe's Google search

Earlier on Wednesday, defense attorney Alan Jackson handled the cross-examination of McCabe, who was on the stand for several hours of contentious questioning on Tuesday. She completed her testimony around 11 a.m. on Wednesday after being on the stand for portions of three days.  

McCabe was questioned about the Google search she made the morning of January 29, 2022. According to McCabe, Read asked her to search how long it would take someone to die in the cold after they found O'Keefe in the snow. Defense attorneys say the search was actually made hours before O'Keefe's body was found.  

Jackson displayed data extracted from McCabe's cellphone by telecommunications company Cellebrite. On her phone, McCabe searched versions of "How long to die in cold," but the searched included typos.

The prosecution says searches took place at 6:23 a.m. and 6:24 a.m. on January 29, 2022 at the urging of Read. The defense argues that they were made at 2:27 a.m.

"I never searched at 2:27. That is not reality," McCabe said. "I'm sure Cellebrite will be able to explain to you. I certainly can't."

Near the end of Jackson's cross-examination, he asked McCabe if she deleted the Google search because it could incriminate her.

"Miss McCabe, the reason you deleted that 2:27  call is because you realized if you were caught googling how long it takes for a person to die in the cold 3.5 hours before John's body was found, that would incriminate you wouldn't it?" Jackson said, leading to an objection by the prosecution. Jackson then rephrased the question. "Did you delete that search because you knew you would be implicated in John O'Keefe's death if that search was found on your phone?"

"I did not delete that search. I never made that search at 2:23. I never would have left John O'Keefe out in the cold to die. Because he was my friend that I love," McCabe responded.

Prosecutor Adam Lally asked McCabe about the searches on redirect questioning. McCabe said she performed the Google search in a tab that was already open on her phone. McCabe said she initially opened the tab just before 2:30 a.m. to search about a basketball team her daughter had been invited to join, then never closed that tab.

Internet search results are presented by the defense as defense attorney Alan Jackson questions witness Jen McCabe as she testifies during Karen Read's murder trail, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at Dedham Superior Court in Dedham, Mass. Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger via AP, Pool

"A social media witch hunt"

Jackson began Wednesday's cross-examination by focusing on McCabe's visits to the homes of investigators involved in the case.

He asked McCabe about a September 2023 visit she had at the home of Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor, who is the lead investigator in Read's case.

McCabe said the visit was with the trooper's wife, Elizabeth Proctor, and Michael Proctor was not home at the time. When asked why she was at the home, McCabe said it was to discuss social media harassment her family has received in the case.

"We are two mothers that are being viciously terrorized and harassed by social media. Things that were stated in this courtroom and allegations that were made have turned our lives upside down," McCabe said.

"I know you want to give a narrative," Jackson interjected, which prompted Judge Beverly Cannone to respond "She gets to answer this, Mr. Jackson. The door is open."

"We receive letters, we receive calls, people drive by our house. There was a rolling rally outside of my house where people just screamed at us," McCabe said.

"So you were upset about the public outrage concerning your family's involvement in the death of John O'Keefe," Jackson said. McCabe said "I was outraged because I am a state witness that is being tortured because of lies."

"Because of public concerning your family's involvement in the death of a police officer. Correct?" Jackson said.

"No. It's a social media witch hunt," McCabe replied. 

Massachusetts State Police announced in March they have opened an internal investigation into "a potential violation of department policy" by Trooper Michael Proctor. The reason for the investigation was not specified, but said he remains on full duty.

Witness Jen McCabe of Canton, Mass., testifies during Karen Read's murder trail, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at Dedham Superior Court in Dedham, Mass.  Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger via AP, Pool

"Turtleboy" directly referenced for first time

For the first time in the trial, Aidan Kearney, who publishes on the website TB Daily News under the name "Turtleboy," was directly referenced.

Previous witnesses on the stand have described harassment on social media related to the case, but none specifically mentioned Kearney. Initially on Wednesday, McCabe referred to Kearney as "some named blogger that I think the defense is very familiar with."

Later while Jackson asked McCabe about her Google search, she said she knew what she searched because "you've put it out on social media." Jackson responded that he does not have social media and did not put the information out on those platforms.

"I'm sorry. Turtleboy did," McCabe replied.

How is Jennifer McCabe involved in the Karen Read case?

During direct examination, McCabe said she heard Read say "I hit him, I hit him, I hit him," the morning O'Keefe was found dead. Jackson accused her of manufacturing her testimony.

Jackson also pressed McCabe on deleted phone records, accused her of "eavesdropping" on another witness's interview with police, and asked if she was directing others what to tell investigators.

"There is no story. There's facts and truth on this side. There's no story. The story that you've created is not the truth," McCabe testified on Tuesday.

ATF agent Brian Higgins is expected to take the stand on Friday. Higgins is one of the three men the defense has suggested as an alternate suspect.

Defendant Karen Read, left, watches as witness Jen McCabe leaves the court after testifying in Read's murder trail, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at Dedham Superior Court in Dedham, Mass.  Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger via AP, Pool

Who is Karen Read?

Karen Read, a 45-year-old Massachusetts woman, has been on trial for weeks in a murder case that has gained national attention.

Read pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, manslaughter while operating under the influence of alcohol, and leaving the scene of personal injury and death.

Karen Read trial schedule

The court on Tuesday announced several days with no court proceedings over the next two weeks. Trial will not take place on Thursday, May 23. The trial will resume on Friday, May 24 with a full day of testimony. After Memorial Day on Monday, court will be back for a full day on Tuesday but then the jury will get the rest of the week off.  

Read's trial is taking longer than expected after three weeks of testimony from nearly 40 witnesses. Experts told WBZ-TV a long trial runs the risk of losing the jury. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.