July 18th, 2024

Top investigator in Karen Read murder case questioned over inappropriate texts

By Michael Casey, The Associated Press on June 12, 2024.

BOSTON (AP) – The lead investigator in the case of a woman accused of leaving her Boston police officer boyfriend for dead in a snowbank has come under fire for a series of offensive and inappropriate texts he wrote about the defendant during the investigation.

Massachusetts State Trooper Michael Proctor, who took the stand Monday and continued to be cross-examined Wednesday, acknowledged to the jury that he called Karen Read a series of names including “wack job” in texts to friends, family and fellow troopers.

He was asked to explain tests in which he came to the conclusion after the first day that Read was responsible for killing John O’Keefe. Proctor was also challenged over his sharing details of the investigation with his sister in text messages as well as his relationship with two witnesses.

The testimony came in the seventh week of trial for Read, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the January 2022 death of O’Keefe. Prosecutors say Read dropped O’Keefe off at the home of a fellow officer after a night of drinking and struck him while making a three-point turn. They say she then drove away. Her defense team argues that she has been framed.

He acknowledged Wednesday that he knew Chris Albert and his wife, Julie. Chris Albert is the brother of Brian Albert, who owned the house where O’Keefe was found.

Proctor repeatedly apologized during his testimony for language used in text exchanges, saying they were “something I am not proud of and I shouldn’t have wrote in private or any type of setting.” But he insisted the comments had no influence on the investigation.

“These juvenile, unprofessional comments had zero impact on the facts and evidence and integrity of the investigation,” Proctor told the court.

The defense team jumped on the exchanges, including one where Proctor wrote that he hated one of Read’s attorneys. They also noted a text in which Proctor joked to his supervisors about not finding nude photos when he was going through Read’s phone.

Proctor denied he was looking for nude photos of Read, though her defense attorney Alan Jackson suggested his response demonstrated bias in the investigation.

“You weren’t so much as objectively investigating her as objectifying her in those moments,” Jackson said.

The text exchanges could raise doubts with the jury about Proctor’s credibility and play into the hands of the defense which has questioned law enforcement’s handling of the investigation.

Read’s lawyers have alleged that O’Keefe was beaten inside the home, bitten by a family dog and then left outside.

They have portrayed the investigation as shoddy and undermined by the relationship investigators had with the law enforcement agents at the house party. They also have suggested pieces of glass found on the bumper of Read’s SUV and a hair found on the vehicle’s exterior may have been planted.

Proctor acknowledged Monday that he is friends with the brother of Brian Albert and his wife – though he insisted it had no influence on the investigation and had never been to their house before O’Keefe’s death. Brian Albert is a Boston police officer, whose hosted the house party where O’Keefe’s body was found in the front yard.

His text exchanges could also distract from evidence he and other state troopers found, including pieces of a clear and red plastic found at the crime scene in the days and weeks after O’Keefe’s death. Proctor held up several evidence bags Monday that prosecutors said contained pieces of plastic collected from the crime scene.

Prosecutors argue that the pieces are from the broken taillight on Read’s SUV, which she damaged when she hit O’Keefe. They also produced video evidence Monday refuting defense claims that Read backed into O’Keefe’s car and damaged the taillight. Proctor also testified that he found no damage on O’Keefe’s car nor the garage door.

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