Watch CBS News

Will Karen Read testify in her high-profile Massachusetts murder trial?

Karen Read comments on case outside court, attorneys battle over potential witnesses
Karen Read comments on case outside court, attorneys battle over potential witnesses 02:28

DEDHAM – It's the million-dollar question as the defense is set to present its case. Will Karen Read testify at her own murder trial?

The prosecution has been making its case since testimony got underway April 29. The prosecution is nearing the conclusion of its witness list, and could rest its case by the end of this week.

What is Karen Read accused of?

Read is accused of second-degree murder – among other charges – for the 2022 death of her boyfriend, Boston police officer John O'Keefe.

Prosecutors say she hit him with her SUV outside 34 Fairview Road in Canton during a snowstorm after a night of drinking. The two had been going to the Canton home for a gathering after a night at bars with friends, but witnesses have testified that neither entered the home.

Read's defense team says she's the innocent victim of a police cover up. They believe O'Keefe was actually killed in a fight inside the home, his body then dumped on the front lawn.

Will Karen Read take the stand?

Now that it will soon be the defense's turn, many who are glued to this case are wondering if Karen Read plans to take the stand.

WBZ-TV first asked Read on June 13 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. 

On June 18, Read was asked if she thought about taking the stand.

"I have. I'd like to fill in some holes and correct some lies, but it's up to the attorneys and they'll make the call probably at the 11th hour and I'm there or not there. I defer to them," Read said. "I'm an outspoken person and I've never not been been able to speak up for myself in my defense except when it matters the most. I've got to rely on them and their expertise and I'll defer to the attorneys."

Legal expert calls potential testimony "a risk"

It's "highly unusual" for a defendant to testify at their own murder trial, defense attorney Phil Tracy told WBZ-TV. The Fifth Amendment protects citizens' right against self-incrimination.

However, legal analysts who spoke to WBZ-TV agree on one thing. Nothing about this case has been "normal."

"It's a risk, but I would say, in this case above any other case, you put her on the stand," Tracy said.

Tracy said he anticipated Read could say things like, "I don't know if I hit him or not, OK? I don't think I don't think I hit him." Or, "I don't know… Was he already dead when I hit him?"

"She could say a lot of those things, which now the jurors [are considering] reasonable doubt," Tracy said, adding that putting her on the stand could "engender sympathy."

Potential for "hushed courtroom" moment

Former prosecutor and WBZ-TV legal analyst Jennifer Roman agreed.

"It's always a gamble for the defense to put the defendant on the stand because anything can happen when somebody goes to testify," she said. "If she does get up there it is going to be one of those hushed courtroom moments."

Roman said based on Read's behavior around the media, there's a chance she's willing to testify.

"[Karen Read] has put herself out in front of the camera now and even as recently as Friday she was speaking to the press about her case," Roman said. "It makes you think that she does want to testify, she does want to tell her story. And if her and her defense team agree that she is in the best position to be the one to tell that story, he will be up there."

The defense previously said that when it starts to mount its case, it may only take four full days. Judge Beverly Cannone previously told jurors they could expect to have the case by the end of June.

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.