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Karen Read murder trial: Judge asks jurors to try once more after they repeat they cannot reach unanimous verdict

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Karen Read murder trial: Judge asks jurors to try once more after they repeat they cannot reach unanimous verdict




CNN
 — 

The Massachusetts judge overseeing the Karen Read murder trial read jurors a so-called “dynamite charge” Monday morning, directing them to continue their deliberations after they indicated for a second time 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. If they fail once again to reach a verdict, however, the judge may declare a hung jury, resulting in a mistrial.

Norfolk County Superior Court Judge Beverly Cannone read the charge 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.”

“The divergence in our views are not rooted in a lack of understanding or effort,” the note said, “but deeply held convictions that each of us carry, ultimately leading to a point where consensus in unattainable.”

Jurors had resumed deliberations Monday morning at the judge’s direction, after first saying on Friday they could not reach a unanimous decision in the trial of Read, who is accused of drunkenly driving into her police officer boyfriend and leaving him to die in January 2022.

On Friday, after hearing arguments from the prosecution and defense, Cannone asked the jury to continue to deliberate, which it did until shortly after 4 p.m. Friday. Deliberations resumed at 9 a.m.

The jury of six men and six women has been deliberating Read’s fate since midday last Tuesday. The case has featured accusations of a vast police cover-up as well as improper conduct and sexist text messages from a lead investigator.

Read, 45, pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and leaving the scene of a collision resulting in death. If found guilty of second-degree murder, Read faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to Massachusetts law.

The body of her boyfriend, Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe, was found bruised and battered in the snow on January 29, 2022, outside the home of a fellow Boston police officer in Canton, Massachusetts.

The prosecution and defense both weighed in on the jury’s note Friday, asking the judge to consider different outcomes in her decision on what to tell the jury.

“It is far, far, far too early in their deliberative process to even consider giving them any kind of Tuey-Rodriguez instruction or anything close to that,” Norfolk County Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally said, referring to a special set of Massachusetts instructions that are read to a jury when jurors are unable to agree on a verdict. “The note doesn’t really indicate affirmatively that they can’t come to a conclusion, it just says they haven’t come to a conclusion through their deliberative process at this time.”

Alternately, defense attorney David Yanetti argued the jury should be read the Tuey-Rodriguez criminal model instructions, indicating they would like the court to proceed toward having a hung jury.

“The word exhaustive is the word I think that’s operative here,” he told the judge. “They are communicating to the court that they’ve exhausted all manner of compromise, all manner of persuasion, and they’re at an impasse.”

The judge said she weighed both counsels’ views in deciding to send the jury back to deliberate a verdict in the controversial case. The Tuey-Rodriguez instructions were not read to the jury Friday. Case law cautions against reading the instruction prematurely.

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 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 Adam Lally said in closing arguments Tuesday.

In contrast, Read’s defense has accused off-duty police inside that 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 Alan 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.”

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.”

The prosecution’s case also has 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 that 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 that he had found “no nudes” while searching her phone for evidence, CNN affiliate WCVB reported.

Proctor apologized for the “unprofessional” comments on the stand, but the vulgar texts have been 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.”



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