Apr 17, 2024 - News

Karen Read's murder trial in death of Boston officer ramps up

A man and woman walk through a crowd of people

Photo: Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The murder trial of Karen Read kicked off yesterday, spotlighting a court drama that's become a major local obsession.

Why it matters: Public interest in the Read case has grown from a trickle of true crime die-hards to a torrent of mainstream curiosity about what exactly went down the night Boston Police Officer John O'Keefe died in the snow outside a house party in Canton.

Catch up quick: Read, O'Keefe's girlfriend, is charged with hitting him with her SUV and leaving him die in January 2022.

The intrigue: Read maintains she's been framed. Her defense listed three possible culprits, including the retired Boston Police officer who hosted the party and a federal law enforcement agent they say had a romantic interest in Read.

The latest: Norfolk County Superior Court Judge Beverly Cannone gave Read's team a win on the first day of the trial by allowing the defense to argue O'Keefe was killed by someone else.

  • Read's lawyers won't be able to make that claim directly to jurors in their opening statement, but the judge ruled they can make the point through solid evidence during the proceedings.

What to expect: 164 people were listed as possible witnesses.

  • Read's defense will try to call forensic experts to show that O'Keefe's injuries were from a beating and dog bites.
  • Second degree murder, the charge Read faces, carries a life sentence with parole a possibility after 15 years in prison.

Zoom out: There was more action outside Dedham Superior Court, where throngs of Read supporters rallied for her to be found innocent.

  • Demonstrators will have to keep 200 feet from the courthouse and are barred from using public address equipment.

What they're saying: "We know that in the subject of this case, there are people advocating for one outcome or another with intensity but without the benefit of having heard or seen any evidence at all," said Cannone, according to the Boston Globe.

Read's case has produced a glut of publicity and a years-long media frenzy that's made it difficult to find unbiased jurors.

  • Four of the 16 needed jurors were selected yesterday. Jury selection will resume today.
  • The Globe reported snickering in the courtroom when 70 of the roughly 100 potential jurors raised their hands when asked if they had heard about the case.
  • Dozens admitted to already forming opinions on Read's innocence.

What's next: The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.


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