Officer Killed-Girlfriend Trial

DEDHAM, Mass. — The defense concluded its presentation of evidence on Monday in the murder trial of Karen Read, who is accused of striking a police officer with her SUV and leaving him to die in a snowbank.

Read, who chose not to testify, rested her case after three final witnesses took the stand. The judge informed the jury that they had heard all the evidence and will begin deliberations on Tuesday following closing arguments, which will be allotted one hour for each side.

The case has drawn significant media attention, fueled by a lack of trust in the police and amplified by crime bloggers.

Read has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Officer John O’Keefe. Prosecutors assert that Read struck O’Keefe with her SUV and fled the scene in January 2022. O’Keefe was found unconscious hours later outside the Canton home of another Boston police officer who was hosting a party. An autopsy determined that he died from hypothermia and blunt force trauma.

One of the final witnesses was a retired forensic pathologist who testified on Monday that some of O’Keefe’s injuries were inconsistent with being struck by a Lexus SUV.

Dr. Frank Sheridan, who previously served as the chief medical examiner for San Bernardino County in California, testified that he would have expected more bruising if O’Keefe had been hit by such a heavy vehicle. He also suggested that scratch marks on O’Keefe’s arm could have been inflicted by an animal, possibly a dog, and that other injuries were consistent with an altercation.

Two witnesses from an independent consulting firm specializing in forensic engineering also raised doubts about the prosecution’s version of events, suggesting inconsistencies with the evidence. “You can’t deny the science and the physics,” Andrew Rentschler from ARCCA, testified at one point. ARCCA was hired by the FBI as part of a federal investigation into the state law enforcement’s handling of the Read case.

Read’s lawyers,  maintain that O’Keefe was dragged outside after being beaten up in Brian Albert’s home in Canton and bitten by Albert’s dog. They leveraged Sheridan’s testimony to reinforce their theory about the dog, despite the absence of canine DNA evidence, and to suggest that the injuries were not consistent with being struck by Read’s SUV.

The defense argued that investigators focused on Read because she was a “convenient outsider” who allowed them to avoid considering other suspects, including Albert and other law enforcement officers who were at the party.

Prosecutors spent the majority of the two-month trial meticulously presenting . The defense called only a handful of witnesses over two days, but utilized their time in cross-examining prosecution witnesses to raise  and sloppy police work. The defense was echoed by complaints from a chorus of supporters who often gathered outside the courthouse.

Rita Lombardi, a Canton resident who described herself as part of the “sidewalk jury” and has not missed a day of the trial, stated that the proceedings at Norfolk County court have revealed “failures in the system” that she believes need to be addressed.

“We know Karen Read was framed. And framed by the people that we trust, that have sworn an oath to protect to serve,” she said. “That is a problem in America.”