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A timeline of the Karen Read case and the story behind the high-profile Massachusetts murder trial

What to know about the Karen Read murder trial in Massachusetts
What to know about the Karen Read murder trial in Massachusetts 20:11

BOSTON – The high-profile Karen Read murder trial in Massachusetts got underway on April 16. Read is accused of killing her boyfriend, Boston police officer John O'Keefe, with her SUV in 2022. Her defense argues she is the victim of an elaborate coverup and is being framed by a group of people that includes law enforcement.

Here is a look at the timeline of events in the Karen Read investigation and trial.

January 29, 2022 – the night John O'Keefe died

Shortly after midnight: Karen Read, John O'Keefe and a group of friends went to the Waterfall Bar and Grill in Canton on the night of January 28, 2022. According to prosecutors, Read consumed several alcoholic beverages. Read drove O'Keefe to the home of Boston police officer Brian Albert. That is where police said people from the bar were meeting back up. 

1 a.m.:  Court documents later revealed that in the weeks before and even the hours leading up to the night out, text messages between Read and O'Keefe as well as voicemails showed a strained relationship. Investigators said that around 1 a.m. on January 29, Read allegedly left O'Keefe a voicemail that said " are a f------ loser, f--- yourself" and "John, I f------ hate you."

4-5 a.m. – At 4:23 a.m. while heavy snow was falling, O'Keefe's niece called Jennifer McCabe, Brian Albert's sister-in-law and a friend of O'Keefe's. She said Read was "distraught" because O'Keefe had not come home and was not answering his cellphone. According to court documents, McCabe said she heard Read screaming "John didn't come home. We had a fight." Around 5 a.m. Read called another woman whose husband was friends with O'Keefe. Prosecutors alleged that Read said while they searched "What if he's dead? What if a plow hit him? … I don't remember anything from last night, we drank so much I don't remember anything."

John O'Keefe was found dead outside a Canton home on January 29, 2022. CBS Boston

5:07 a.m. – Read, McCabe, and the third woman went to look for O'Keefe. Prosecutors said Read mentioned to the women that she had a crack in her tail light and wondered if she could have hit O'Keefe. At 5:07 a.m., a surveillance camera at O'Keefe's house shows Read's SUV coming "extremely close" to O'Keefe's SUV in the driveway. Prosecutors say no tail light pieces were found in the driveway. Read's defense argues the vehicle did strike SUV, breaking the tail light and providing an explanation for damage to SUV.

6 a.m. – Around 6 a.m., Read sees O'Keefe lying in the snow outside Brian Albert's home. An emergency responder said that while hysterical and inconsolable, Read repeatedly says "I hit him. I hit him." The defense argues that one of the first responding officers from Canton police gave "false and deceptive testimony" to the grand jury that would later indict Read.

January 29, 2022 – Prosecutors and defense attorneys agree that at some point the morning O'Keefe was killed, someone googled "hos (sic) long to die in cold." The sides disagree on when the search was made. Prosecutors say the search happened at 6:23 a.m. and 6:24 a.m. after O'Keefe's body was found. The defense says a federal forensic expert determined the search was made at 2:27 a.m., before police were alerted that O'Keefe's body had been found.

How did John O'Keefe die?

January 29, 2022 – Police say they found a broken cocktail glass and pieces of tail light at the scene. A forensic toxicologist estimated that Read's blood alcohol content (BAC) would have been around .13-.29 around 12:45 a.m., more than the legal limit.

January 31, 2022 – An autopsy is completed on O'Keefe. Prosecutors said the medical examiner ruled the cause of death was blunt impact injuries to the head and hypothermia. They say the medical examiner did not find "any obvious signs of an altercation or a fight."

Karen Read arrested

February 2, 2022 – Read appears in Stoughton District Court for the first time, pleading not guilty to manslaughter, motor vehicle homicide, and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle collision causing death.

Karen Read was brought into Stoughton District Court, Feb. 2, 2022. (WBZ-TV)

June 10, 2022 – A Norfolk County grand jury indicts Karen Read on charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter while operating under the influence of alcohol, and leaving the scene of personal injury and death. Read is arraigned on the new charges in O'Keefe's death. She pleaded not guilty in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham and was ordered held on $100,000 bail. Read made bail and has been out on release since.

Karen Read's defense claims she was framed

May 3, 2023 - Defense attorneys Alan Jackson and David Yannetti allege that O'Keefe was involved in a fight inside Brian Albert's home. They claim O'Keefe was beaten and his body was later dumped outside. Jackson and Yannetti focused on wounds to O'Keefe's arms, which they said showed he was attacked by Albert's dog during the fight.

"This is not just fishing," Jackson said during the May 3 hearing. "We've got a fish on the hook, we just need the court to help us reel it in." Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally argued that O'Keefe never went in the home and added "There is no evidence that Mr. O'Keefe was beaten and left for for dead."

Karen Read
Karen Read's defense attorney Alan Jackson shows John O'Keefe's autopsy photo at court hearing May 3, 2023. CBS Boston

May 24, 2023 – During a pretrial hearing, Read's attorneys laid out what they allege to be a coverup by law enforcement. 

"Certainly the Massachusetts State Police is involved. There are people that were in that house that are involved," Jackson said. "Brian Albert is involved. Jennifer McCabe is involved. The rest of the folks that were in that house, there's some level of involvement by every one of them. Every single one of them. We're not going to rest until we get to the bottom of exactly who's behind this coverup. Not only Karen Read deserves this. John O'Keefe deserves this, and has deserved this from moment one. And that's why they're not going to rest."

Following the dramatic hearing, Read spoke to reporters for the first time. 

"We know who did it. We know. And we know who spearheaded this coverup. You all know," Read said on the courthouse steps. "I tried to save his life. I tried to save his life at 6 in the morning, I was covered in his blood. I was the only one trying to save his life."

Courtroom battles over evidence

August 1, 2023 – Judge Beverly Cannone denied a prosecution request for a gag order in the case. The Norfolk District Attorney's office had asked for the gag order saying witnesses were being harassed. Yannetti countered by saying it was prosecutors who are "controlling the narrative."

Judge Beverly J. Cannone oversees a hearing in the Karen Read case at Norfolk Superior Court. Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

August 25, 2023 – Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey released a video statement slamming what he described as "absolutely baseless" harassment of witnesses in the case. 

"Conspiracy theories are not evidence," Morrissey said. "The idea that multiple police departments, EMTs, Fire personnel, the medical examiner, and the prosecuting agency are joined in, or taken in by, a vast conspiracy should be seen for what it is - completely contrary to the evidence and a desperate attempt to re-assign guilt."

Why was "Turtleboy" arrested?

October 11, 2023 – Aidan Kearney, the blogger who operates the site "Turtleboy News," was arrested on charges of witness intimidation related to the Karen Read case. Kearney had been covering the case for months, often recording himself confronting witnesses. His defense attorney told the judge that Kearney was exercising his First Amendment right.

Aidan Kearney sits with his attorney, Timothy Bradl during a court appearance.  Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

December 26, 2023 – A judge revoked Kearney's bail amid new assault and battery charges. Kearney allegedly went to his ex-girlfriend's home, demanded to see her phone, then shoved her during a confrontation. Kearney remained in jail for nearly two months but was later released on personal recognizance.

Evidence under scrutiny

February 22, 2024 – In court filings, prosecutors said they have DNA evidence recovered from a broken tail light that implicates Read in O'Keefe's death. They said the tail light is the same material from Read's SUV, and that the DNA matched O'Keefe's. They also said broken tail light material was found on O'Keefe's clothing.

March 12, 2024 – Read's defense team said that a federal investigation into the case led to an FBI expert concluding that evidence does not support the theory that O'Keefe died after being hit by an SUV. 

"The damage on the car was inconsistent with having made contact with John O'Keefe's body. In other words, the car didn't hit him, and he wasn't hit by the car," Jackson said. Prosecutors disagreed, accusing Read's attorney of "defense by obfuscation."

March 13, 2024 – In a brief statement, Massachusetts State Police said they have opened an internal investigation into "a potential violation of department policy" by Trooper Michael Proctor, who was the lead investigator in the case. Police did not say what prompted the investigation, but said he remains on full duty. Read's defense attorneys said the federal investigation showed Proctor hid personal ties to people involved in the case. In a statement, Proctor's attorney Michael DiStefano denied any wrongdoing.

"Trooper Proctor has been fully cooperative in responding to the investigations conducted by the US Attorney's Office and the Massachusetts State Police Internal Affairs Unit," DiStefano said. "To be clear, Trooper Proctor remains steadfast in the integrity of the work he performed investigating the death of Mr. John O'Keefe. To the extent that Trooper Proctor's personal text messages are alluded to in court proceedings regarding Ms. Read, he respectfully submits that the objective investigative steps he and members of his unit took are in no way undermined by the content of the personal messages."

Karen Read arrives at Norfolk Superior Court for jury selection in her murder trial.  Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Karen Read murder trial takes center stage

March 26, 2024 – Judge Cannone denied a defense motion to dismiss the case. Cannone said she was denying the motion due to "extensive evidence supporting the indictments."

April 12, 2024 – During the final pretrial hearing in the case, Cannone heard 30 different motions on which she had to rule, listening to arguments from both sides on many of them. 

Among them was an argument by Read's attorneys that they should be able to make a third-party culprit defense during the trial. They say Brian Albert, Colin Albert, and Brian Higgins, all of whom were present at the party John O'Keefe was at the night he died, could have killed O'Keefe. 

Prosecutor Lally called it a "fanciful story," but told the judge "there's actually no actual evidence."

Jury selection begins

April 16, 2024 – Karen Read's second-degree murder trial began with jury selection. A total of four jurors were added on the first day.

April 17, 2024 – Jury selection continued for a second day, with seven more jurors added. 

April 17, 2024 – A third day of jury selection wrapped without a full jury seated. Two more jurors were added, but one from a previous day was excused, bringing the total number of jurors seated so far to 12. 

April 24, 2024 A jury was seated on the fifth day of jury selection over the course more than a week. The trial is scheduled to last 6-8 weeks once a jury is seated.

Testimony underway

April 29, 2024 Opening statments and testimony got underway with the first witnesses called. John O'Keefe's brother Paul and his wife Erin were the first two on the stand. Canton police officer Steve Saraf also began his testimony. Prosecutors showed video from Saraf's dashboard camera as he arrived on scene.

April 30, 2024 A Canton paramedic who treated John O'Keefe the day he died testified that he heard a woman saying "I hit him, I hit him." Read's defense team argued that the man's testimony has changed over time.

May 2, 2024 – Four paramedics and firefighters testified about what they heard Read say the morning O'Keefe's body was found.

May 6, 2024 – Jurors heard the 911 calls from the day O'Keefe's body was found. Police who responded to the scene testified as well on the fifth day of testimony.

May 7, 2024 Several Canton police officers testified about their handling of the crime scene. Among them was Sgt. Michael Lank, who Read's defense team argued had personal connections to the home where John O'Keefe's body was found in 2022.

May 10, 2024 – There was a pause in the trial as Judge Cannone heard arguments about whether Aidan Kearney, who publishes as "Turtleboy" for his site, TB Daily News, should be allowed in the courtroom. He is facing charges of witness intimidation involving people in the Read case. The judge ruled that Kearney must leave the courtroom when certain witnesses take the stand.

Also that day, retired Boston police officer Brian Albert took the stand. He owned the home where O'Keefe's body was found. Albert testified that O'Keefe and Read never entered his home the night of the incident. 

May 14, 2024 – A woman who was at Brian Albert's Fairview Road home the night O'Keefe died said she saw a "black blob" in the lawn as she was leaving. The defense called it a "made-up story."

May 15, 2024 – Allie McCabe, a prosecution witness, broke down in tears on the stand describing harassment in the case. Colin Albert, who the defense claims could have been involved in a fight that killed O'Keefe, was also called as a witness.

May 16, 2024 – Colin Albert finished his testimony with cross-examination that focused on what defense attorneys claim is a history of violent behavior. 

May 17, 2024 – Jennifer McCabe, a key witness in the case, took the stand. She was with Read the morning O'Keefe's body was found. McCabe testified that Read asked her to Google how long it would take someone to die in the cold. Defense attorneys argue the search actually happened before O'Keefe's body was found. Court ended for the day before Read's attorneys began to cross-examine McCabe.

May 21, 2024 Jennifer McCabe was back on the stand, this time for several hours of contentious cross-examination by Alan Jackson. This day marked the first time Kearney's "Turtleboy" site has been directly referenced. 

Jennifer McCabe said defense attorney Alan Jackson had put the information out on social media, but Jackson said he had not. "I'm sorry. Turtleboy did," the witness responded. Earlier in the day, Jennifer McCabe referred to Kearney as "some named blogger that I think the defense is very familiar with."

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