Watch CBS News

Karen Read murder trial testimony features contentious cross-examination of Jennifer McCabe

Jennifer McCabe questioned about phone calls, texts in Karen Read murder trial
Jennifer McCabe questioned about phone calls, texts in Karen Read murder trial 02:13

DEDHAM - Testimony in the Karen Read murder trial resumed on Tuesday with contentious cross-examination by defense attorneys of Jennifer McCabe, the woman who Google searched "hos (sic) long to die in cold" the morning John O'Keefe's body was found in the snow.

The prosecution alleges that in January 2022 Read hit and killed O'Keefe, a Boston police officer who she was dating at the time, with her SUV and left him to die outside Brian Albert's Canton home.

Read's defense says she is the victim of an elaborate coverup. They claim O'Keefe could have been killed during a fight inside the home, then dragged outside and left in the snow.

Read's defense attorney Alan Jackson is handling cross-examination of McCabe. The day finished with McCabe still on the stand. Cross-examination is expected to resume on Wednesday.

Police interview with Kerry Roberts

Jackson questioned McCabe about when police interviewed Kerry Roberts, who was with Read and McCabe when they discovered O'Keefe's body. The phone interview took place while Roberts was inside McCabe's house.

"At the end of the day, you were eavesdropping on an interview Kerry Roberts was having with law enforcement in their official capacity weren't you?" Jackson asked.

She said that she was eating dinner with her family at the time, and overheard some things.

"I'm saying there's a possibility if I'm sitting in this room eating dinner and someone's in another room talking, you can hear bits and pieces. Was I eavesdropping? No. Was there some big coverup story? No," McCabe said.

When asked why text messages show that McCabe said Roberts was telling investigators "everything," she said it was because Roberts was "going on and on and on like she does."

"We had both lost our friend. Kerry Roberts was in shock, as was I in shock," McCabe testified. "The two of us had all this information that kept coming back to us and back to us. It's terrifying when you go through an experience and you're in shock. And Kerry was remembering things I was remembering things. So I was happy for her."

Jackson asked McCabe if she attempted to steer Roberts' story.

"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.

Jennifer McCabe testifies at Karen Read's murder trial on May 21, 2024. CBS Boston

Did Jennifer McCabe delete phone call records?

Jackson presented data collected from McCabe's phone that he said shows calls from her cell phone to O'Keefe's phone were deleted.

"You sanitized your phone because you didn't want the police to know who you had been calling or the fact that you had been calling John O'Keefe's phone incessantly," Jackson said.

"Incorrect. I willingly turned over my phone," McCabe said. "After you deleted your phone call logs, correct?" Jackson followed up. "Absolutely not," McCabe responded.

On Friday, the jury was shown a group text message between the McCabes and the Alberts. In one text message, Jennifer's husband Matthew McCabe said to Chris Albert to "ask some questions" and then say "the guy [John] never went in the house." Matthew McCabe said it was a message about what to tell a media member who was asking questions.

During cross-examination Tuesday, Jennifer McCabe was asked if her husband was directing the group what to say.

"No. John never went in the house. It wasn't a story. It was the truth. And it is the truth," Jennifer McCabe said. 

"I'm an honest and truthful person"

Jackson asked McCabe if Brian Albert, who was a Boston police officer at the time of O'Keefe's death but has since retired, gave her any advice on what to say if interviewed. She said no.

Shortly after O'Keefe's body was found, McCabe made phone calls to Brian and Nicole Albert that she said were not answered. They were later found in a deleted calls folder, though McCabe testified that she did not delete them.

Jackson asked if McCabe and Brian Albert ever discussed deleting calls. "Absolutely not, " McCabe said.

"Would you tell us if did?" Jackson asked.

"Yes. Because I'm an honest and truthful person," McCabe said. 

"I hit him, I hit him, I hit him"

McCabe previously testified that when first responders arrived on Fairview Road, Read clearly repeated "I hit him, I hit him, I hit him."

Under cross-examination, Jackson asked McCabe about previous testimony, but noted that in prior grand jury testimony she used different versions of the phrase instead of directly saying "I hit him."

"I don't know if it's in this document but I can tell you with 100% clarity that she said 'I hit him, I hit him, I hit him,'" McCabe said while looking at a transcript from previous grand jury testimony.

"It's probably the most powerful part of your testimony ma'am," Jackson said. "And I will never forget it," McCabe responded, leading to an objection that was sustained by the judge.

"Would you agree it's the most powerful part of your testimony?" Jackson then asked, leading to McCabe responding yes.

Jackson asked if McCabe is "manufacturing" this part of her testimony "because you think it helps you out."

"Absolutely not," McCabe replied.

What did Jennifer McCabe see?

Jackson focused on McCabe's previous testimony that the early morning hours of January 29, 2022 while she was inside 34 Fairview Road, she saw Read's vehicle outside. McCabe said the SUV moved several times.

That night, McCabe texted O'Keefe to "pull behind me" after midnight, telling the couple to park in Brian Albert's driveway, and shortly after texted "Hello."

After pointing out that McCabe testified she had a clear view of Read's SUV when she looked out the window, Jackson said "I have a question Miss McCabe. Where was the body?" 

"I have no idea. I'm assuming the body was on the front lawn," McCabe said, noting that she did not see it and never heard anything like an argument or screeching tires.

McCabe later said "I never saw a body. I wish I had." Jackson replied "That sounds a little rehearsed, Miss McCabe."

Karen Read listens to testimony on May 21, 2024. CBS Boston

Tense cross-examination of Jennifer McCabe

There were some tense moments at the start of Jackson's cross-examination as he showed video of McCabe talking to Read while they left the Waterfall Bar and Grille in Canton. That is where the group was drinking before O'Keefe's death.

"See this is the point where I get to ask the questions and you get to answer them," Jackson said after one of McCabe's answers.

At one point, Judge Beverly Cannone reminded McCabe and Jackson of the importance that they not speak over each other.

Jackson attempted to ask McCabe if she has spoken to Brian Albert's brother Chris and his wife since O'Keefe's death. She asked if she was referring to discussions they have had about the case.

"Yes, Miss McCabe I'm asking about this case," Jackson said.

"Of course I speak to them all the time about the vicious harassment we've all been receiving," McCabe responded.

McCabe's daughter Allie previously testified about harassment the family has received, breaking down in tears on the stand.

On Tuesday, McCabe said "the facts of the case are not spoken about as much as the vicious harassment" they have faced.

Several hours into the cross-examination, Jackson asked McCabe if Brian or Nicole Albert ever came out of 34 Fairview Road. McCabe said, "Correct. Neither did any neighbor."

"I know you'd like to keep editorializing after the fact. There's probably a time and a place for that. This isn't it. If you could answer my question, I'd ask you do that," Jackson said.

Direct testimony by Jennifer McCabe

McCabe first took the stand Friday as a prosecution witness. She is the sister of Brian Albert's wife, Nicole Albert.

She described O'Keefe as an "amazing guy" and said she and Read were friends as well.

After O'Keefe did not return home by the early morning of January 29, 2022, Read went out to search for him along with McCabe and Roberts.

Jennifer McCabe's Google search

A Google search is at the center of McCabe's testimony. She said that around 6 a.m. when O'Keefe's body was found, Read asked her to do an internet search.

"She grabbed my hands and she said, 'Google hypothermia, Google how long it takes to die in the cold,'" McCabe testified.
According to search data, McCabe made a spelling error, resulting in the search "Hos long to die in cold."

Defense attorneys claim McCabe is a key part in an alleged plot to frame Read. They say the search actually took place hours before O'Keefe's body was found.

Jackson has not yet questioned McCabe about the search.

Who is Karen Read?

Karen Read is a 45-year-old woman from Massachusetts whose murder case has gained national attention.

Read is charged with and has 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

Read's trial is taking longer than expected after three weeks of testimony from nearly 40 witnesses - and experts say a long trial runs the risk of losing the jury. 

The court on Tuesday announced several days off in the next two weeks. Trial will not be in session on Thursday, May 23. After the Memorial Day holiday, court will be back for a full day on Tuesday but then the jury will get the rest of the week off.

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.