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Karen Read murder trial testimony focuses on "how long to die in cold" search, SUV driving in reverse

Testimony focuses on Karen Read's SUV as a second juror is dismissed
Testimony focuses on Karen Read's SUV as a second juror is dismissed 02:16

DEDHAM - The Karen Read murder trial resumed Friday in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, Massachusetts with more testimony from prosecution witnesses as the seventh week of the trial wraps up.

Read is accused of hitting and killing her boyfriend, 46-year-old Boston Police officer John O'Keefe, with her SUV after a night of drinking on January 29, 2022. She was dropping him off at a house party when, prosecutors say, she ran him over with her Lexus SUV while making a three-point turn and drove away, leaving him to die in a snow storm. The home where the party was held, 34 Fairview Road in Canton, was owned by former Boston police officer Brian Albert at the time.

Read pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and several other charges. Her attorneys say Read is being framed and that O'Keefe was killed in a fight inside the house and his body was dragged outside and left in the storm.

Google search of how long to die in the cold

Jessica Hyde, a digital forensics examiner, was the first witness to take the stand Friday. She works for a company in upstate New York called Hexordia, which specializes in digital forensics training.

Hyde was asked by both the prosecution and the defense to look at time stamps and review Google searches made by Jennifer McCabe.

Earlier in the trial, McCabe, who was with Read while they searched for O'Keefe in the snowstorm, was questioned about a Google search she made that morning. She said Read asked her to look up how long it would take someone to die in the cold after they found O'Keefe's body.

The prosecution said the searches were done at 6:23 a.m. and 6:24 a.m. on January 29, 2022. The defense said the time stamp was actually 2:27 a.m., hours before O'Keefe was found.

Hyde told the court Friday that 2:27 a.m. could be the time the search tab was originally opened or moved. She said the last search in McCabe's phone was at 6:24 a.m.

"What's very special to know about this time stamp is that it's not necessarily the time of the search," she told the court. "I don't see evidence that the term was searched prior to that 6:24 time." 

During a brief cross examination, Read's attorney David Yannetti asked Hyde if she could rule out that the owner of the phone conducted a Google search at 2:27 a.m. Hyde said she can't "rule out something that doesn't exist," adding it's the same as asking if there was a search for "pandas," which there is no evidence of.

Crash reconstructionist says Read's SUV went in reverse outside 34 Fairview Road

After Hyde finished her testimony, Massachusetts State Trooper Joe Paul took the stand.

He is a crash reconstructionist and described how the testing process works. He said two acceleration and deceleration tests were done on Read's SUV. He added there was no airbag deployment data, something Paul said isn't unusual in a pedestrian crash.

From data gathered from a server inside the SUV, it shows it went in drive, then reverse, at the time the SUV was in front of 34 Fairview Road, according to Paul. During the trigger event taken down by the SUV's Toyota Techstream software, the SUV slowed down to zero and then up to 24.2 miles per hour, traveling 62.5 feet.

"It starts off in drive, it's slowing down to zero, and it goes to zero, which is neutral, then it goes into reverse," described Paul. "So it's going straight, it stops, then gets placed in reverse and then it goes in reverse." Paul said the SUV was backing up in a straight line and going about 24.2 miles per hour.

"There's a point in there where it appears to be consistent with a pedestrian strike," said Paul, referring to the sudden change of speed. Paul added O'Keefe's injuries were also consistent with a pedestrian strike.

Video was shown to the jury of Paul testing Read's SUV, showing that her backup and 360 degree cameras were both working.

What happened to the Karen Read trial live stream?

Testimony was delayed at the start of the day for more than an hour Friday when the camera for the streaming video feed accidentally caught a shot of a juror walking into the courtroom for a sidebar with Judge Beverly Cannone. The photographer quickly moved the camera away, but minutes later Cannone ordered it be shut off for the rest of the morning.

With no video stream of the trial available, a Zoom feed was provided by the court until the end of the morning recess. Just after noon, Cannone allowed the regular video streaming feed to resume.

Karen Read trial juror dismissed

Before testimony began Friday, Cannone met with four jurors individually in sidebars. It's not known what was discussed. Afterwards, the judge said, for sufficient reasons, one of those jurors had been dismissed

"It's personal to that juror," Cannone told the courtroom.

There are now 15 jurors - 9 women and 6 men. Another juror was officially dismissed earlier this week on Wednesday.

When asked if the trial will still end on schedule with all the delays, defense attorney Yannetti said, "I think that the DA has indicated that he'll rest by Thursday."

Will Karen Read testify?

WBZ-TV's Kristina Rex asked Read Thursday afternoon if she's going to testify.

"Whatever the lawyers say I need to do, I'll do and I'm willing to go either way," Read said.

Karen Read trial schedule

There are full days of testimony scheduled next week for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and a half day on Friday. The courthouse will be closed Wednesday for the Juneteenth holiday.

Read's attorneys told Rex they've gotten information that prosecutors will wrap up their case on Tuesday.  

The defense told WBZ-TV earlier this month they expect to take four full days to present their case to the jury.

Judge Cannone told the jury last week that she "can safely say that you will get this case for your deliberation sometime in the last week in June."

What's the latest in the Karen Read trial?

On Thursday, the jury heard about DNA evidence and saw data from Read's phone the night of O'Keefe's death.

Three forensic experts testified that O'Keefe was a likely match to DNA found on a broken taillight on Read's SUV and the broken drinking glass found next to his body. A hair extracted from the SUV by a forensic scientist was also a likely match.

Read's attorneys did not cross-examine any of the expert witnesses Thursday. They claim O'Keefe's DNA was planted. They also allege the lead investigator, Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor, tampered with her SUV's taillight. Proctor's DNA was tested and experts testified Thursday that it was not found on Read's taillight.

An evidence photo of the broken red taillight on the passenger side of Karen Read's SUV. Norfolk Superior Court

The jury also heard from Massachusetts State Police Lt. Brian Tully. He re-traced Karen Read's steps that night and morning through a combination of surveillance video and cell tower tracking.

Who is Karen Read?

Karen Read, 44, is from Mansfield, Massachusetts. She was dating Boston police officer John O'Keefe at the time of his death. After dropping him off at the Canton house party in the early morning of January 29, 2022, she drove to O'Keefe's house. When O'Keefe did not come home that morning and she couldn't reach him, Read and two other women went out to look for him. O'Keefe was found dead, covered in snow around 6 a.m.

First responders at the scene later testified they heard Read say "I hit him."

Her trial was initially expected to last 6 to 8 weeks.

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