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A murderous romance or a framework? Things to know about the Karen Read murder trial in Boston

Karen Read sits with her legal team in court, Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Dedham, Massachusetts.  Read, 44, is accused of running into her boyfriend, a Boston police officer, with her SUV in the middle of a nor'easter and leaving him for dead after a night of heavy drinking.  (David McGlynn/New York Post via AP, Pool)
Karen Read sits with her legal team in court, Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Dedham, Massachusetts. Read, 44, is accused of running into her boyfriend, a Boston police officer, with her SUV in the middle of a nor’easter and leaving him for dead after a night of heavy drinking. (David McGlynn/New York Post via AP, Pool)David McGlynn/AP

BOSTON (AP) — A long-awaited trial began this week in Massachusetts for a woman accused of hitting her Boston police officer boyfriend with her SUV and leaving him for dead in a snowbank.

John O’Keefe died on January 29, 2022 in a suburb about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Boston.

The case has gained national attention as the defense claims state and local law enforcement framed her and released the real killer.

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Here are the facts and legal arguments in the case:


Karen Read, 44, of Mansfield, Massachusetts, faces several charges, including manslaughter in the death of John O’Keefe, 46. The 16-year police veteran was found unconscious outside the home of a fellow Boston police officer.

After a night out at several bars, prosecutors say Read dropped O’Keefe off at a house party just after midnight. While making a three-point turn, Read allegedly hit O’Keefe before driving away. Hours later, she returned to find him in a snowbank.

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Part of what prosecutors are trying to do is show that Read’s actions were intentional. To do that, Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally began presenting evidence showing that the couple had a stormy relationship that began to “sour” in the month before O’Keefe died. The prosecution’s first witness, O’Keefe’s brother Paul, testified that they would argue frequently, including over what Read fed his two adopted children and that he witnessed a fight the couple had in Cape Cod in 2021 about O’Keefe’s treatment of her.

Paul O’Keefe’s wife, Erin, testified that Read told her the couple had fought in Aruba after she caught O’Keefe kissing another woman.

THE DEFENSE: Police are framing the suspect

In their opening statement, the defense team laid out plans to portray the investigation into O’Keefe’s death as sloppy and undermined by the close relationship investigators had with police and other law enforcement at the house party.

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They argued that investigators focused on Read because she was an “easy outsider” and that kept them from considering other suspects. They plan to argue that someone other than Read was responsible for O’Keefe’s death, but have only advanced a theory that he was beaten in the house and left for dead outside.

They also criticized investigators for not searching the house where the party was being held to see if a fight had occurred, and argued that his injuries were consistent with being beaten up.


Early on, prosecutors appeared to rely on Read’s own words to secure a conviction. Most of the first week was dominated by first responders, who described a harrowing scene that morning in January 2022.

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They came across O’Keefe lying face up and Read, distraught and screaming near the body, with what appeared to be blood on her mouth from giving CPR.

The most damning testimony this week came from several first responders who recalled Read loudly and repeatedly telling them she “hit him,” even though she never said so with her SUV.

Another witness, a police officer who was first on the scene, testified that Read said this was her fault and that she was responsible, although she did not say how she was responsible.


The defense has tried to undermine the credibility of the first responders who testified for the prosecution. They pointed out errors in the police log, including the wrong address where O’Keefe’s body was found.

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They also got a witness, who testified that he heard Read say O’Keefe’s death was her fault, to acknowledge that he never wrote that in a police report. They also questioned the memory of another witness, suggesting that another may have been too focused on saving O’Keefe’s life to hear Read say she had hit O’Keefe.

The defense also showed video of the scene to suggest that a first responder, who claimed he heard Read tell him she had hit O’Keefe, was not shown talking to her.

They also tried to cast doubt on the jury’s mind about the overall investigation, getting several witnesses to say they never heard Read say she hit O’Keefe, nor did they see dozens of pieces of her broken taillight at the scene , evidence that prosecutors say shows. she backed into him.


The first few days of the trial also detailed first responders’ futile attempts to save O’Keefe. They found him face up when they arrived just before dawn on January 29.

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One witness stated that O’Keefe was not breathing and had no pulse. Another said his body temperature was only 26.6 degrees Celsius, which he described as extreme hyperthermia.

O’Keefe’s condition never changed, despite the lifesaving efforts of first responders en route to a local hospital. He was pronounced dead at the hospital and an autopsy later revealed that he died of hypothermia and blunt force trauma.