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Karen Read murder trial Day 10 testimony featured tense cross-examination of Brian Albert

Jurors hear from Brian Albert, his children in Karen Read murder trial
Jurors hear from Brian Albert, his children in Karen Read murder trial 02:25

DEDHAM - The Karen Read murder trial resumed Monday with tense cross-examination of Brian Albert, the owner of the Canton, Massachusetts home where Read's boyfriend, Boston police officer John O'Keefe was found dead in January 2022.

Albert, a former Boston Police officer, began testifying in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham last Friday. He described O'Keefe as a friend, but admitted he did not know him well.

Read, 45, is charged with second-degree murder in the case. Prosecutors say she hit and killed O'Keefe with her SUV. Defense attorneys say Read is being framed and O'Keefe was killed during a fight inside Albert's home. Albert said O'Keefe never entered his home that night. 

Albert, who recently retired, was drinking with a group that included Read and O'Keefe at the Waterfall Bar & Grille in Canton on January 28, 2022.   

Officer Killed Girlfriend Trial
Witness Brian Albert testifies during the trial of Karen Read at Norfolk County Superior Court, Friday, May 10, 2024, in Dedham, Mass. Charles Krupa / AP

Brian Albert's cellphone

Defense attorney Alan Jackson, without the jury present, accused Albert of destroying cellphone data. Albert was given a preservation order for his cellphone use from January 28 to February 28, 2022.

According to Albert, he had upgraded his cellphone before learning of the order.

After questioning without the jury present, jurors returned to the room and Jackson questioned Albert about what happened to his cellphone data.

Albert said he got a new phone around September 22, 2022, and the preservation was ordered on September 23, 2022.

"So according to you, you got rid of the phone that was the subject of a court-ordered preservation the day before it was ordered preserved? Right?" Jackson asked.

"September 4 was my birthday. The phone was broken and failing. I had planned on getting a new phone and that just happened to be the day I got it," Albert said.

Phone calls the night John O'Keefe died

Jackson showed Albert surveillance video from the Waterfall bar that appears to show him and ATF agent Brian Higgins play-fighting. 

Albert said the two were "fooling around," but Jackson has attempted to show that they were practicing fighting techniques.

Records show Albert and Higgins later exchanged calls around 2 a.m. on January 29, 2022. Albert said he "inadvertently" called Higgins, calling it a "butt dial." Higgins called Albert back, but Albert testified the two never spoke.

"That next morning, while everything was going on, I mentioned to Brian 'I may have butt-dialed you last night. Sorry about that,'" Albert testified.

"Did you two both agree to say that those were butt dials in order to cover up those calls?" Jackson asked, to which Albert replied, "We did not say that."

Karen Read surveillance
Surveillance video from Waterfall Bar & Grille in Canton shows Brian Albert and Brian Higgins seemingly play-fighting CBS Boston

Cross-examination of Brian Albert

Several members of the group from Waterfall returned to Albert's Fairview Road home after leaving the bar. O'Keefe's body was found hours later on Albert's lawn. Read's attorneys argue that O'Keefe was killed during a fight inside the home, then dragged outside.

On Monday, Jackson peppered Albert with questions.

Jackson read a transcript from previous grand jury testimony Albert gave, when he said "I've never met or seen [Karen Read] before. Maybe once, but I've never had a conversation with her I don't think." Jackson said the statement was not true, because they had previously met. 

Jackson displayed a photo of Albert, O'Keefe and two others that was taken the week before O'Keefe's death. According to Jackson, Read took the photo.

Albert testified that the night at Waterfall in Canton, he did not talk to Read. Jackson played surveillance video that he said shows Albert talking to Read.

Jackson asked Albert if he was trying to "distance" himself from the fact that he knew O'Keefe and Read during his grand jury testimony. 

"Mr. Albert, you knew if you had a relationship with John O'Keefe or Karen Read, you knew you'd have a lot to answer for when his body ended up dead on your lawn six days later?" Jackson asked, to which the prosecution objected.

Jackson showed a video from Albert's backyard and asked if it was possible to move a large heavy object out of the basement and not bring it through the house. Albert answered yes. "There is a bulkhead door you can use," he said.

Brian Albert says Read, O'Keefe never entered home

On Friday, Albert first took the witness stand and testified about the night of O'Keefe's death. He said Read and O'Keefe never entered his home that night.

During cross-examination, Jackson asked Albert if O'Keefe came into the house. He said no, something he reiterated when cross-examination continued on Monday.

"John never came into my house that night. He would've been welcomed. And the defendant would've been welcomed if she had come," Albert said. "I wish they had come over that night, they would've been welcomed with open arms. I really do."  

Jackson asked Albert why he never went outside after seeing the police activity the morning O'Keefe died. Albert said he never noticed anything was happening until after O'Keefe's body had been taken from the scene to the hospital.

"At that time, there was no victim outside my house. There was no one who needed first aid. There was nothing I could do," Albert said.

Months after O'Keefe's death, Albert sold the home. He testified on Friday that the sale was not because of O'Keefe's death.

The home, owned by the Albert family at the time, on Fairview Road in Canton where John O'Keefe's body was found. CBS Boston

Who was inside Brian Albert's home?

Albert was questioned on who was inside his home the night O'Keefe died.

Specifically, Jackson asked Albert why he and his wife both left out their nephew, Colin Albert from the list.  

"Did both of you conveniently forget that Colin had been there?" Jackson asked. Albert said he did not mention Colin Albert because he left shortly after he returned home from Waterfall.

Brian Albert Jr. testifies he saw dark-colored SUV

Next on the stand was Brian Albert Jr., Brian Albert's son. He was the first witness who has testified to seeing a dark SUV outside 34 Fairview the night O'Keefe died. 

"There was another car that I didn't, I hadn't recognized before. It was a dark SUV," Brian Albert Jr. said. 

Brian Albert Jr.
Brian Albert Jr. testifies during Karen Read murder trial May 13, 2024 CBS Boston

Albert said he was sitting at the family dining room table and looked out the window. He said he saw the SUV near the mailbox, then later looked again and it was closer to the flagpole with the passenger side towards the house.

Read was driving a black Lexus SUV at the time of O'Keefe's death.

Albert Jr. said he saw tire tracks in the snow. The defense pushed the 25-year-old about his vision.

"So you'd agree that visibility in front of the house was good enough that you could see tire tracks? But you did not see a 220-pound man lying in the snow in your front yard?" defense attorney Elizabeth Little asked. Albert Jr. said he did not.

Karen Read SUV
Karen Read's Lexus SUV outside 34 Fairview Rd. in Canton for jury viewing of the scene where John O'Keefe died. CBS Boston

Previous witness accused of perjury

Brian Albert's daughter, Caitlin Albert, took the stand after her father and brother. She testified that O'Keefe and Read never entered the Fairview Road home the night of his death.

The defense questioned Caitlin Albert about her relationship with Canton firefighter-paramedic Katie McLaughlin. "I can't think of a time possibly ever where her and I ever hung out one on one or individually," Caitlin Albert said.

Court ended for the day with Caitlin Albert still on the stand. She was dismissed for the day and cross-examination will resume on Tuesday.

After jurors left the room, Judge Beverly Cannone heard arguments from each side about prior testimony of McLaughlin.

Caitlin Albert
Caitlin Albert testifies in Karen Read murder trial on May 13, 2024 CBS Boston

While on the stand earlier in the trial, McLaughlin said she heard Read repeatedly say "I hit him" when she was on scene after O'Keefe's body was found. Yannetti argued Monday that McLaughlin changed her story "once she realized this was the Albert family."  

Defense attorney David Yannetti argued that McLaughlin committed perjury when she described herself as an acquaintance, not a friend, of Caitlin Albert.

Yannetti said he received a "deluge" of photographs following McLaughlin's testimony. Read's attorneys argue the photos show McLaughlin and Caitlin Albert are friends.

Prosecutor Adam Lally said Yannetti is being "intentionally vague" about where he got the photographs from. Lally also said Yannetti was mischaracterizing the testimony about what Read was heard saying at the scene.

Cannone did not rule on the issue Monday. She said she will look over her notes and decide on Tuesday.

Who is Karen Read?

Prosecutors said Read dropped O'Keefe off at Albert's home after a night of drinking in January 2022 and hit him with her SUV as she drove away, leaving him for dead in a snowstorm. In addition to second-degree murder, Read is also charged with manslaughter while operating under the influence of alcohol, and leaving the scene of personal injury and death.

Read has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. 

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