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Karen Read murder trial ends in mistrial with “starkly divided” hung jury


Karen Read murder trial ends in mistrial with “starkly divided” hung jury

DEDHAM – The Karen Read murder trial ended Monday after a “starkly divided” hung jury failed to reach a verdict, forcing Judge Beverly Cannone to declare a mistrial. The decision came after 27 hours of deliberations in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, Massachusetts.

Read is accused of killing her boyfriend, Boston police officer John O’Keefe, by hitting him with her car in Canton on January 29, 2022. She denies any involvement and claims he was killed at a house party with police and other law enforcement.

Will Karen Read be retried?

Judge Beverly Cannone set July 22 for the case to be back in court to determine next steps.

In a statement after the decision, the Norfolk District Attorney’s office said it plans to retry the case.

“First, we thank the O’Keefe family for their commitment and dedication to this long process. They maintained sight of the true core of this case – to find justice for John O’Keefe. The Commonwealth intends to re-try the case,” the statement read. 

What Karen Read jurors said about deliberations

Jurors sent one final note to Judge Cannone before she declared a mistrial.

“Despite our rigorous efforts we continue to find ourselves at an impasse. Our perspectives on the evidence are starkly divided. Some members of the jury firmly believe that the evidence surpasses the burden of proof establishing the elements of the charges beyond reasonable doubt,” the jury said in its note. “Conversely, others find the evidence fails to meet this standard and does not sufficiently establish the necessary elements of the charges. The deep division is not due to a lack of effort or diligence, but rather a sincere adherence to our individual principles and moral convictions. To continue to deliberate would be futile and only serve to force us to compromise these deeply held beliefs.”

Cannone responded by saying “I’m not going to do that to you folks. Your service is complete. I’m declaring a mistrial in this case.”

Alan Jackson vows defense “will not stop fighting”

Read’s attorneys spoke briefly outside court on Monday, though she did not comment.

“The Commonwealth did their worst. They brought the weight of the state based on spurious charges, compromised evidence and investigators, and compromised witnesses. They failed miserably and they’ll continue to fail, no matter how long it takes, no matter how long they keep trying, we will not stop fighting,” defense attorney Alan Jackson said. “We have no quit.”  

Karen Read hung jury

The mistrial comes after roughly five days of deliberations. The jury of six women and six men received the case Tuesday, June 25, following closing arguments. They heard from 74 witness, 68 of them for the prosecution, during 29 days of testimony over nearly two months. They told Judge Cannone Friday they were deadlocked, but she sent them back to continue deliberating.

They sent a second note to the judge Monday morning, saying, “We find ourselves deeply divided by fundamental differences in our opinions and state of mind. The divergence in our views are not rooted in a lack of understanding or effort, but deeply held convictions that each of us carry ultimately leading to a point where consensus is unattainable. We recognize the weight of this admission, and the implication it holds.”

What is Tuey Rodriguez?

Judge Cannone then gave the jury what’s known as a “Tuey-Rodriguez instruction,” a last resort instruction aimed at getting them to reach a verdict. But the jury remained hung and Cannone had no choice but to declare a mistrial.

Karen Read mistrial

Without a guilty or not guilty verdict in this trial, Karen Read could be tried again. Legal experts say that could take months. A re-trial would not be anytime soon, because there are other trials that still need to be heard.

“If this case has to be retried, we’re going back to the same pool of people, the same Norfolk County jury pool and we’re again going to have to try to find a subset of people that really know nothing about this case. It’s going to be extraordinarily difficult,” legal analyst Jennifer Roman told WBZ-TV.

Karen Read charges

Read, 44, of Mansfield, Massachusetts, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter while operating under the influence, and leaving the scene of personal injury and death. If she had been convicted on the murder charge, she faced up to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Read is accused of hitting and killing O’Keefe, who she was dating at the time, with her SUV after a night of drinking and leaving him to die during a snowstorm in Canton, Massachusetts.

Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe.

Boston Police

O’Keefe’s body was found in the front yard of Brian Albert’s home at 34 Fairview Road in Canton. Albert, a retired Boston police officer, was hosting an afterparty for the group that was out drinking in the hours leading up to O’Keefe’s death.

Karen Read jury

It’s not clear yet what the jury was stuck on during their deliberations. 

For the prosecution to get any conviction, the jury had to agree that she hit O’Keefe with her SUV that night, whether she intended to or not. It’s not known if the 12 jurors agreed on that or not. If they did, then they could begin discussing the charges.

Karen Read trial closing arguments

Attorneys presented vastly different closing arguments on June 25.

The defense attempted to paint a picture of an elaborate conspiracy by law enforcement and witnesses in the case. 

“Ladies and gentlemen there was a coverup in this case, plain and simple,” Read’s attorney Alan Jackson told the court.  

Prosecutor Adam Lally urged jurors to follow the evidence and Read’s own words.

“‘I hit him, I hit him, I hit him, I hit him.’ Those are the words of the defendant. Four times,” Lally said. “You heard testimony from four different witnesses who overheard and observed those statements from the defendant on January 29, 2022.”

Karen Read, center, arrives at Norfolk Superior Court with her father William Read, left, Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Dedham. 

AP Photo/Steven Senne

Karen Read murder trial testimony

Defense attorneys argued during the trial that O’Keefe was actually killed during a fight inside Albert’s home, then dragged outside and dumped on the lawn during a snowstorm.

The trial began on April 16 with jury selection. Testimony got underway on April 29.

Over the course of nearly two months, the prosecution called 68 witnesses and the defense team called an additional six people to the stand. 

Among the witnesses called by the prosecution were first responders who testified that they heard Read’s “I hit him” statements the morning O’Keefe’s body was found. They also had several witnesses who testified that O’Keefe never went inside Brian Albert’s home.

Defense attorneys spent significant time during cross-examination attempting to show that the investigation into O’Keefe’s death was biased and focused only on Read from the start. Read’s attorneys claimed that people investigating the case lied to cover up for friends who were witnesses.

The Karen Read investigation

Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor, the lead investigator in the case, was a key witness during the trial.

Prosecutors called Proctor to testify about evidence he discovered throughout the investigation. But Proctor was also forced to read aloud derogatory text messages he sent to friends about Read.

Proctor is currently under investigation by the Massachusetts State Police, but remains on full duty. Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey said she was “disgusted” by Proctor’s actions.

Though Read had said she would be willing to take the stand in her own defense, she did not testify during the trial.

Supporters of Karen Read listen to proceedings from Read’s trial from a laptop computer while gathered a block away from Norfolk Superior Court, Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in Dedham.

AP Photo/Steven Senne

“Free Karen Read” supporters

Large crowds of Read’s supporters have been present outside Norfolk Superior Court throughout the trial. The crowds grew even larger in the final week of the trial, with many wearing pink and holding “Free Karen Read” signs.

On the day closing statements were presented, supporters told WBZ-TV they came from as far away as Tennessee and Michigan to support Read.

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