July 20th, 2024

Defense rests for woman accused of killing her Boston officer boyfriend with SUV

By Michael Casey, The Associated Press on June 24, 2024.

DEDHAM, Mass. (AP) – The defense called its final witnesses Monday in the murder trial of a Massachusetts woman accused of striking her Boston police officer with her SUV and leaving him to die in a snowbank.

The judge told the jurors that they have heard all the evidence, and closing arguments would be on Tuesday, with one hour for each side, before deliberations begin.

One of the final witnesses was a retired forensic pathologist who testified Monday that some of the injuries suffered by a Boston police officer who was left for dead in a snowbank were inconsistent with being struck by his girlfriend’s heavy SUV.

Karen Read pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Officer John O’Keefe. Prosecutors contend she struck O’Keefe with her SUV and then left the scene in January 2022. He was found unresponsive hours later outside the Canton home of another Boston police officer who was hosting a party. An autopsy found he died of hypothermia and blunt force trauma.

Dr. Frank Sheridan, who worked previously as chief medical examiner for San Bernardino County in California, testified Monday that he would’ve expected more bruising if O’Keefe had been hit by a vehicle, based on his review of autopsy results.

He also said O’Keefe’s injuries could have been sustained in a fight, saying some of the injuries he saw were consistent with a physical altercation. And the marks on his arm, he testified, were consistent with being scratched and possibly bitten by an animal like a dog.

Read’s lawyers contend O’Keefe was brought outside after he was beaten up Albert’s home and bitten by Albert’s dog. They used Sheridan’s testimony to reinforce their theory about the dog, despite a lack of canine DNA evidence, and to suggest that the injuries don’t line up with being struck by Read’s Lexus SUV.

Sheridan was among the final three witnesses to testify. Another defense witness testified about extensive independent testing that suggested the SUV’s damage was inconsistent with the prosecutor’s version of events.

Read’s lawyers argued that investigators focused on Read because she was a “convenient outsider” who saved them from having to consider other suspects, including Albert and other law enforcement officers who were at the party.

Prosecutors spent most of the two-month trial methodically presenting evidence from the scene. The defense called only a handful of witnesses over two days, but used its time in cross-examining prosecution witnesses to raise questions about the investigation, including conflicts of interest and sloppy police work. The defense was echoed by complaints from a chorus of supporters that often camp outside the courthouse.

Rita Lombardi, a Canton resident who said she’s part of the “sidewalk jury” and has never missed a day of the trial, said the experience at Norfolk County court has demonstrated “failures in the system” that she believes needs to be addressed.

“We know Karen Read was framed. And framed by the people that we trust, that have sworn an oath to protect to serve,” she said. “That is a problem in America.”

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