world : Mistrial Declared in Karen Read Massachusetts Murder Trial After Deadlocked Jury

Monday 1 July 2024 10:45 PM

Nafeza 2 world - A mistrial was declared Monday in the murder trial of Karen Read, the Massachusetts woman accused of killing her police officer boyfriend, after the jury failed to reach a verdict.

The sensational months-long trial was filled with media storms, conspiracy theories, a jury harassment charge, and protests. Read, 44, was charged with the murder of 46-year old Boston police officer John O’Keefe in January 2022. The police and prosecution accused her of hitting O’Keefe with her Lexus SUV outside of the home of retired police officer Brian Albert in Canton, where they were invited to a party, and leaving him to die in a snowbank. O’Keefe had severe head injuries and hypothermia and was pronounced dead the morning of Jan. 29, and Read was arrested three days later.

The trial began on April 29 in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, Massachusetts. Judge Beverly Cannone heard arguments throughout May and June by the prosecution and the defense, though Read did not testify. Jurors officially began deliberations at 1:30 p.m. on June 25.  

The judge told jurors Friday to continue deliberating after the jury found themselves deadlocked. But after deliberating again for about 90 minutes Monday morning, jurors said they were still unable to reach a unanimous verdict. The jury foreperson said in a note to Cannone on Monday that the jury was “deeply divided.” Cannone told them to continue deliberations one last time before declaring a mistrial.

“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 foreman said in the note. “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 implications it holds.”

Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey said he plans to re-try the case. A new hearing is scheduled for July 22 to determine next steps.

The prosecution’s case relied on key witnesses, including Jennifer McCabe, a friend of O’Keefe’s for about 10 years, who told the court that Read allegedly asked her to search how long it would take for someone to die in the cold. Some of the emergency workers at the scene the morning of O’Keefe’s death testified that they heard Read repeatedly say, “I hit him” when first responder Katie McLaughlin asked if there was any trauma that O’Keefe had endured, according to the Boston Globe. McCabe, though, testified that Read asked “Did I hit him?”— a panicked question in the shock of the moment, not a confession. 

Read More: What to Know About the Karen Read Trial 

Read denied killing her boyfriend, pleading not guilty to the charges against her. 

Her defense attorneys only brought up a handful of witnesses throughout two days in late June. They maintain that O’Keefe’s death was not what the prosecution made it out to be. According to the defense, O’Keefe argued with people inside Albert’s home and his beaten body was later dumped outside. They utilized testimony from a retired forensic pathologist who testified Monday that some of O’Keefe's injuries were inconsistent with being struck by the Lexus SUV. They also pointed to wounds on O’Keefe’s arms, claiming they were from a dog attack. 

The defense also attempted to accuse investigators of framing Read, presenting disparaging text messages sent by lead investigator on the case, Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor, in which he stated he hoped Read would take her own life and called her a “whackjob.” Proctor called the text messages “regrettable.”

In the closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally told jurors there was no conspiracy, asking the jury to follow the evidence laid out before them, repeating words shared by witnesses, and pointing towards Read’s broken taillight found at the scene.

Public fascination and obsession with the case grew, and supporters of Read held protests over the trial. Internet blogger Aidan Kearney, known online as Turtleboy, has heightened scrutiny of the case, after publicly interrogating the investigation’s integrity and filming himself confronting witnesses in public. In October 2023, Kearney was arrested and charged with witness intimidation.

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