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Karen Read murder trial jury begins deliberations after attorneys present vastly different closing arguments

Karen Read trial jury begins deliberations after closing arguments
Karen Read trial jury begins deliberations after closing arguments 04:41

DEDHAM – Deliberations began Tuesday in Karen Read's' high-profile murder trial at Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, Massachusetts. Defense attorneys argued during closing statements that Read is the victim of an elaborate coverup, while the prosecution urged jurors to follow the evidence and Read's own words.

Both sides were given one hour to present their final arguments. 

Once the judge gave instructions Tuesday afternoon, the jury was given the case for deliberations around 1 p.m. after nearly two months of testimony. Jurors left for the day just before 4:30 p.m. with no verdict reached after about three hours of deliberations. 

Read was asked outside court if she has any nerves while waiting for the veridct.

"I don't know if nerves are the right word. Anticipation and…." Read said, before being cut off by her attorney amid a massive crowd of media and supporters.

The jury consists of six men and six women, with two women serving as alternates. 

Read is charged with second-degree murder in the death of her boyfriend, Boston police officer John O'Keefe, on January 29, 2022. She has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecution opens with Karen Read's alleged "I hit him" statements

Just before 11:15 a.m., prosecutor Adam Lally opened his closing argument by quoting witness testimony of what the state says Read said the morning O'Keefe's body was found.

"'I hit him, I hit him, I hit him, I hit him.' Those are the words of the defendant. Four times," Lally said. "You heard testimony from four different witnesses who overheard and observed those statements from the defendant on January 29, 2022."

Lally pointed out Read's behavior in the early morning hours after O'Keefe's death. He noted that Read made dozens of phone calls and text messages, but did not call police when she discovered O'Keefe was missing.

"No calls to 911 from the defendant while John O'Keefe is laying, freezing and dying from a brain injury and skull fracture, on the front lawn of 34 Fairview Road," Lally said.

Trooper Michael Proctor's text messages

Lally addressed the conduct of Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor, who was the lead investigator in the case.

When Proctor was on the stand, he had to read derogatory text messages he sent to friends and family about Read. In one message, Proctor said "She's a whackjob [expletive]" and in another said "hopefully she kills herself."

"Let me first just address Trooper Proctor. The text messages from Trooper Proctor are unprofessional, they're indefensible, they're inexcusable," Lally said. "However, as distasteful as those messages are and their contents, I submit they have no bearing whatsoever or impact whatsoever on the integrity of the entirety of the investigation that Massachusetts State Police collectively conducted into John O'Keefe's death."

Proctor is under internal investigation, but remains on full duty. He called the text messages "regrettable."

Lally highlights "The little things"

Lally referenced one of the first witnesses in the trial, John O'Keefe's sister-in-law Erin O'Keefe.

Erin O'Keefe called Read the morning of January 29, 2022, after learning John O'Keefe was dead.

"Erin O'Keefe again calls back later because she's concerned for someone that she considered her friend. How does the defendant respond? These are some of the little things," Lally said. "The defendant indicates to Ms. O'Keefe that she just has to remember the bad times, and indicates to her 'I don't think I'll ever see you guys again.'"

Throughout his closing argument, Lally urged jurors to consider "the little things" as he did in recalling Erin O'Keefe's testimony.

Lally used all of his allotted time. Initially the judge cut him off before Lally concluded his remarks, but he was allowed to finish his final sentence, asking the jury to find Read guilty.

Karen Read's defense makes final case

Defense attorney Alan Jackson began his closing argument just after 10 a.m. and took the full one hour of allotted time. 

At the close of his argument, he issued a final plea to the jurors.

"When you stare the truth down, you'll see that the Commonwealth has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty. Not even close. Ladies and gentlemen, Karen Read is innocent. Do justice and find her not guilty,"

Defense says "There was a coverup in this case, plain and simple"

Earlier, Jackson began by laying out what he called a clear coverup.

"Ladies and gentlemen there was a coverup in this case, plain and simple," Jackson said.

Jackson began to lay out the allegedly elaborate coverup, referencing what he described as destroyed evidence, compromised investigators and planted evidence.

"It's not that it could happen. It's that every single one of those things that I just mentioned did happen, right in front of you," Jackson said.

John O'Keefe's injuries

According to Jackson, the evidence presented by the prosecution is "laughable."

"It should be relatively simple, right? The Commonwealth claims that Karen Read pulled up to 34 Fairview, John got out of the car, she reversed into him, and then she drove home. That's four facts. Just four facts, that's all it is. What evidence do they actually have to prove that that SUV ever hit John?" Jackson said. "The answer is none. They don't have any. There's no evidence whatsoever that Karen Read's vehicle ever struck John O'Keefe or that Karen Read ever wanted to strike John O'Keefe."

Jackson also claimed that O'Keefe's injuries do not match a vehicle strike, and instead are consistent with a fight. He noted that the lack of significant injuries like broken bones or bruising show that O'Keefe was not hit by Read's SUV.

"John got into an altercation. He was punched. He tried to defend himself by putting his hands up. He may have even scratched his own nose by putting his hands in front of his face to defend himself. His hands were bruised in covering up. As he continued, he got hit and fell to ground, fracturing his skull," Jackson said.

Alan Jackson blames Brian Albert, Brian Higgins

Jackson zeroed in on Brian Albert and Brian Higgins as two men who he says killed O'Keefe. 

Albert, a retired Boston police officer, owned the Canton home where O'Keefe's body was found and was hosting an afterparty that night. Higgins, an ATF agent who exchanged flirty text messages with Read, was at the party after drinking with the group that included Albert, O'Keefe, and Read earlier in the evening.

The defense has said throughout the case that O'Keefe was killed during a fight and bitten by Albert's German shepherd Chloe. O'Keefe's arm had scratch marks that the prosecution said was caused by Read's broken taillight. 

"How long does it take to have a cross word? How long does it take to have a fight? How long would it take for Brian Higgins to say to John, 'You know your girl has been texting me?' A push, a punch, a fall, pull Chloe off his arm and now it's done," Jackson said in his closing. "What is it? Five seconds? Ten? It doesn't take long at all. And then the panic sets in. It wasn't intended to go that far. But what's done is done. And then some very, very odd things start happening at the Albert household."

Later in the morning, Lally attempted to counter Jackson's accusations. Multiple prosecution witnesses testified that O'Keefe never went inside the house.

Lally noted that the day before O'Keefe's body was found, Higgins and Albert were in New York City for the funeral of a police officer they did not know. 

Lally said that, according to the defense theory, the men returned home "only to ... come back to Mr. Albert's house, to then murder another police officer who they did know, who worked for the same department as them."

"And then criminal mastermind genius that Brian Albert is, 28 years on the Boston Police Department, he's then going to just leave Mr. O'Keefe's body on his front lawn? Really? That's the conspiracy? What evidence do you have of that?" Lally said.   

Brian Albert walked into the courtroom with the O'Keefe family and several other witnesses in the case at the start of proceedings.

Juror dismissed before closing arguments

The start of closing arguments was delayed as a juror was dismissed following several sidebar discussions. 

Before the full jury was brought into the courtroom, attorneys met at sidebar with Judge Beverly Cannone and the female juror. 

Seventeen jurors were initially sworn in after lengthy jury selection. Two jurors were excused during the trial and the female juror on Tuesday became the third to be excused. That left the panel with eight women and six men.   

Brian Albert listens during closing arguments in the Karen Read trial at Norfolk Superior Court on Tuesday, June 25, 2024 in Dedham, Mass.  Nancy Lane/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool

John O'Keefe's family arrives for closing arguments

Members of the O'Keefe family arrived for Tuesday's closing statements and sat with several people who were key witnesses in the trial.

Jennifer McCabe, Colin Albert, and Kerry Roberts, who all testified for the prosecution, sat with the O'Keefe family along with Brian Albert.

With McCabe sitting just feet away, Jackson said during his closing argument that she was "blatantly lying" during her testimony.

After court ended for the day, Jackson was asked about their presence in the courtroom.

"I think it's a joke. I think they were doing it for some sort of intimidation factor, probably for the jurors. It just plays into their countenance as bullies. That's all that was about," Jackson said.

"Free Karen Read" supporters outside court

According to WBZ-TV's Penny Kmitt, at least 250 people were outside the court Tuesday morning when Read arrived, many of them chanting "Free Karen Read."

Throughout the trial, supporters have been kept back from the courthouse by a "buffer zone" put in place in an effort to maintain an unbiased jury.

What is Karen Read accused of?

The prosecution says Read hit O'Keefe with her Lexus SUV outside a home in Canton and left him to die during snowstorm. Read's defense attorneys say she's being framed. They claim O'Keefe was beaten to death inside the home, bitten by a dog, then dumped in the front yard by the men involved in the alleged fight.

After calling 68 witnesses over the course of nearly two months, prosecutors rested their case on Friday. The defense completed its list of six witnesses on Monday and then rested its case.

Prosecutor Adam Lally, right, shows an exhibits book to defendant Karen Read's attorney David Yannetti during her murder trail at Norfolk Superior Court, Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Dedham, Mass. Nancy Lane/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool

Who are the attorneys in the Karen Read trial?

Lally is the prosecutor from the Norfolk Count District Attorney's office. He presented the state's case along with Assistant District Attorney Laura McLaughlin during the trial.

Jackson and David Yannetti are Read's lead attorneys. Elizabeth Little also questioned several witnesses during the trial for the defense. Yannetti handled the defense's opening statements in April while Jackson was tasked with closing arguments.

Jackson represented Kevin Spacey on Nantucket in 2016 when the actor was accused of sexually assaulting a young man. Prosecutors later dropped the case against Spacey.

Karen Read murder trial jury deliberations

The jury of 14 was trimmed to 12 for deliberations. Judge Cannone picked a man seated in seat No. 1 as the foreperson.

Two women were selected as alternates using a bingo cage with wooden number blocks in it. 

Karen Read is flanked by defense attorneys Alan Jackson and Elizabeth Little, at the start of a recess in Norfolk Superior Court, in Dedham, Mass., Monday, June 24, 2024. Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via AP, Pool

Who is Karen Read?

Read, 44, of Mansfield, Massachusetts, is charged with three felonies - second-degree murder, manslaughter while operating under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of personal injury and death.

She and O'Keefe were dating at the time he died, though witnesses testified that their relationship was strained.

Prosecutors say Read had been drinking for hours with O'Keefe in Canton before she hit him with her Lexus SUV after dropping him off an an after-party at 34 Fairview Road.

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