Mistrial declared for Karen Read, accused of killing her police officer boyfriend – and an investigator is relieved of duty | CNN (2024)

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A judge declared a mistrial in the murder trial of Karen Read, the Massachusetts woman accused of drunkenly driving into her police officer boyfriend and leaving him to die in January 2022, in a case featuring accusations of a vast police cover-up and investigative misconduct.

And the state trooper who helped lead the investigation – a man who admitted on the stand that he’d sent sexist and offensive text messages about the defendant to friends – was relieved of duty Monday after the mistrial was declared, the Massachusetts State Police said.

The mistrial was declared after the jury twice told the judge Monday that it could not reach a verdict after spending days deliberating Read’s fate. Jurors also said Friday they could not reach a unanimous decision.

Read, 45, pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, as well as leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death in connection to the 2022 death of John O’Keefe, who was her boyfriend and a Boston police officer.

“We thank the O’Keefe family for their commitment and dedication to this long process,” said Morrisey after the mistrial was announced. “They maintained sight of the true core of this case – to find justice for John O’Keefe.”

The commonwealth intends to retry the case with a new jury following the mistrial, according to Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey. Read could face life in prison if convicted, according to Massachusetts law.

Read’s attorney Alan Jackson, meanwhile, said prosecutors in the case had “failed miserably and they’ll continue to fail,” according to video outside the courthouse provided by CNN affiliate WCVB.

“No matter how long it takes, no matter how long they keep trying, we will not stop fighting,” Jackson said. “Folks, this is what it looks like when you bring false charges against an innocent person.”

The Massachusetts judge overseeing the trial gave jurors a so-called “dynamite charge” Monday morning, directing them to continue their deliberations after they indicated for a second time Monday they could not reach a unanimous verdict. The Tuey-Rodriguez charge instructs jurors to reconsider their positions while taking into consideration the opinions of panelists with whom they do not agree.

Norfolk County Superior Court Judge Beverly Cannone read the charge around 11 a.m. after jurors sent a note saying, “Despite our commitment to the duty entrusted to us, we find ourselves deeply divided by fundamental differences in our opinions and state of mind.”

Jurors had resumed deliberations Monday morning at the judge’s direction, after first saying on Friday they could not reach a unanimous decision. Cannone on Friday asked the jury to continue to deliberate, but decided against reading the Tuey-Rodriguez charge, which case law cautions against providing prematurely.

The jury of six men and six women had been considering a verdict since midday June 25, weighing the evidence in a case featuring accusations of a vast police cover-up as well as improper conduct and sexist text messages from a lead investigator.

Karen Read arrives at Norfolk Superior Court with her father William Read, center left, on Tuesday, June 24. Steven Senne/AP Related article At Karen Read’s murder trial, prosecutors accuse her of drunken crash while defense alleges a vast police cover-up

On both Friday and Monday, Norfolk County Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally argued against the judge issuing the Tuey charge, saying the jury had not yet deliberated enough, citing in part the complexity of the case and the high volume of evidence and witness testimony. Defense attorney David Yannetti, meanwhile, urged the judge to issue the charge, saying Monday jurors had now twice indicated they are “hopelessly deadlocked.”

On Monday, Cannone sided with the defense, telling the court she’d determined the jury had conducted the requisite “due and thorough deliberation.”

“I’ve never seen a note like this, with reporting to be at an impasse,” the judge said.

If prosecutors seek another trial, they could take a different approach, perhaps bringing a lesser charge than second-degree murder if prosecutors determine their evidence failed to meet the standard required or using different experts or different testimony, trial attorney Misty Marris said.

“It’s a chance to identify what the mistakes or holes in the case might have been,” Marris said. “And it does give the defense that advantage, because they know now, especially when you’re able to speak to the jurors after the fact, you learn a lot. You learn a lot about what motivated them.”

How the trial went

The heart of the trial stemmed from what happened on one wintry evening in Canton, Massachusetts, more than two years ago.

On the night of January 28, 2022, Read and O’Keefe went out drinking at two bars with friends. Shortly after midnight, the couple climbed into Read’s SUV and drove to the Canton home of one of O’Keefe’s fellow Boston police officers for an after-party, court documents show.

In the morning, O’Keefe’s body was found bruised and battered in the snow outside the home, authorities said. Prosecutors have alleged Read and O’Keefe, who had an at-times tumultuous relationship, got into an argument that night, and that she drunkenly backed into him with a vehicle and fled the scene, leaving him to die in the cold.

“What the constellation of the facts and the evidence ineluctably demonstrate here is that the defendant drove her vehicle in reverse at 24.2 miles per hour for 62.5 feet, struck Mr. O’Keefe, causing those catastrophic head injuries, leaving him incapacitated and freezing him to death,” prosecutor Lally said in closing arguments Tuesday.

In contrast, Read’s defense has accused off-duty police inside the Canton home of fatally beating O’Keefe, dumping his body on the lawn and then conspiring through fabricated evidence and false testimony to frame Read.

“Ladies and gentlemen, there was a cover-up in this case, plain and simple,” defense attorney Jackson said. “You’ll surely say to yourself, ‘I don’t want to believe it, I don’t want to believe that could happen in our community,’ but sadly over these past eight weeks you’ve seen it right before your eyes.”

Mistrial declared for Karen Read, accused of killing her police officer boyfriend – and an investigator is relieved of duty | CNN (2)

Karen Read is seen Monday as jurors start their fifth day of deliberations in her murder trial in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, Massachusetts.

The closing arguments represented the end of a murder trial that has garnered interest both local and widespread, including accusations of witness tampering, a federal probe into the investigation, and groups of pink-wearing supporters chanting to “Free Karen Read.”

Lead investigator is relieved of duty after mistrial

The prosecution’s case has also been hampered by a series of missteps and unusual investigative practices. Most notably, a lead investigator in the case, Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor, admitted he sent a series of sexist and offensive texts about Read in a private group chat, calling her a “whack job,” mocking her medical issues and commenting to coworkers he had found “no nudes” while searching her phone for evidence, WCVB reported.

Proctor was relieved of duty Monday after the state police learned of the mistrial, state police Col. John Mawn said in an online post Monday evening.

“This follows our previous decision to open an internal affairs investigation after information about serious misconduct emerged in testimony at the trial.This investigation is ongoing,” Mawn’s post reads.

CNN has sought comment from the State Police Association of Massachusetts.

Proctor apologized for the “unprofessional” comments on the stand, but the vulgar texts were sharply criticized in and out of court, including from the governor.

“It’s completely unprofessional,” Gov. Maura Healey told WCVB of the texts. “It does harm, frankly, to the dignity and the integrity of the work of men and women across the state police and law enforcement. So as a former attorney general and as governor, I am disgusted by that.”

CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian, Jennifer Henderson and Zoe Sottile contributed to this report.

Mistrial declared for Karen Read, accused of killing her police officer boyfriend – and an investigator is relieved of duty | CNN (2024)
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