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Jury seated in Karen Read murder trial, opening statements scheduled for Monday

Final jury seated in Karen Read murder trial
Final jury seated in Karen Read murder trial 02:00

DEDHAM – A jury has been seated in the Karen Read murder trial after the judge and attorneys whittled down a pool of hundreds of candidates over the course of nearly five full days.

The jury selection process began last week and concluded on Wednesday. Five jurors were added while another five who had previously been selected were dismissed, leaving the total at 19.

Jurors have not yet been sworn in. According to attorneys, the plan is for there to be 12 regular jurors and four alternates for the trial. It is not yet clear how the current jury will be decreased from 19 to 16.

"It's unusual on two levels," said WBZ legal analyst Jennifer Roman. "The first level is, we have 19 people for a 12-person jury and then two, how do you whittle down? How do you determine who actually sits on the jury?"

When will the Karen Read trial begin?

The trial will take place inside Dedham's Norfolk Superior Court. The trial is expected to last 6 to 8 weeks once it gets underway. 

With the jury seated, opening statements are now scheduled to start Monday. 

A hearing on several key motions is scheduled to take place on Thursday. 

What is Karen Read accused of?

Read will stand trial on several charges, including second-degree murder. She is accused of hitting her boyfriend, Boston police officer John O'Keefe, with her SUV in 2022.

Read's attorneys plan to mount a third-party culprit defense, claiming O'Keefe was actually killed during a fight inside the Canton home where his body was discovered in the snow. Read's attorneys allege that she is the victim of an elaborate coverup by several people, including police.

Judge Beverly Cannone ruled at the start of the trial that while Read's team can make the third-party culprit defense, they cannot do so during their opening statements.

Karen Read stands with lawyers in court during jury selection at Norfolk County Superior Court, Thursday, April 18, 2024, in Dedham, Mass.  David McGlynn/New York Post via AP, Pool

Lengthy jury selection process

Over the course of several days, prospective jurors were questioned both in a group setting and individually by the judge and attorneys from both sides. After individual questioning, jurors were either sent home or added to the jury.

Prosecutors have a list of 87 potential witnesses they could call during the trial. Read's defense team has a list of 77 potential witnesses, including Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey.

Court proceedings likely to be moved?

The defense made a motion asking to move the physical location of the jury box. Read's attorneys argued that jurors are unable to see witnesses' faces from the current location. The prosecution responded by suggesting the trial could be held in a smaller courtroom in the same building.

Cannone said on Wednesday that the current setup does not impact Read's right to due process. But after discussion, the sides agreed that the trial will likely begin in the smaller courtroom.

"My firm conclusion is that the configuration of this courtroom, a courtroom in which criminal trials have been held continuously over 140 years, does not violate a defendant's right to confrontation or due process," Cannone said, adding that the only people who will fit in the smaller room would be press, O'Keefe's family, and Read's family.

"You have to be able to see the witnesses' face and reactions," Read's attorney David Yannetti said, "and the new courtroom is smaller but it accomplishes that." 

Motions in the Karen Read trial

Attorneys are also waiting for rulings on some evidence that may be used during trial. The prosecution wants to include DNA results from a piece of hair found on the tail light of Read's SUV.

Read's supporters have been present outside Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham throughout the first days of trial proceedings. Many are holding signs and wearing shirts that say "Free Karen Read" while standing outside the 200-foot "buffer zone" Cannone imposed in an effort to keep an unbiased jury.

Other supporters have been wearing pink since they are not allowed to wear items supporting either side in the case within the buffer zone.

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