Karen Read

Could we see a hung jury in the Karen Read trial? It happened last year with the same judge

Judge Beverly Cannone declared a mistrial in the last big murder trial she oversaw

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With jurors entering their third day of deliberations in the Karen Read murder trial, more people are starting to ask whether there could be a hung jury in the controversial case.

If the jury fails to reach either a unanimous or majority verdict after a reasonable time, the judge can declare a hung jury and the case would have to be retried before a new jury.



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Prosecutors say Read struck John O’Keefe, her Boston police officer boyfriend, with her SUV and then left the scene in January 2022, leaving him unconscious in the snow after a night of bar hopping. Read’s lawyers argue that she was framed. 

On Wednesday night's episode of "Canton Confidential," we asked legal expert Michael Coyne, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, what the probability of a hung jury is in the Read trial and what that would mean.

Tensions ran high in court Wednesday as the jury in the Karen Read murder trial deliberated for the first full day.

"You know, again, this case breaks the mold," Coyne said. "The fact is there are people -- my sister-in-law says it's a hung jury, others say guilty, others say not guilty -- I don't think we know yet."

"What we do know is there are people, inside Massachusetts and across the country, who are strongly on one side or the other. If one of those folks is on the jury and feels just as strongly as a lot of people out there and the other 11 are going the other way, you have a hung jury."

Statistically, Coyne said the chances of a hung jury are relatively low. But Judge Beverly Cannone — the judge presiding over the Read trial — did recently declare one in another recent case.

"But, in fact, if you remember, the last big murder case before Judge Cannone was the one from the Weymouth police officer, and initially that was a hung jury on the murder charge, and they came back and retried him and he was found guilty."

Coyne was referencing the murder trial of Emanuel Lopes, who was charged in the killings of Weymouth Police Sgt. Michael Chesna and 77-year-old Vera Adams in 2018. Lopes was ultimately found guilty following his second trial earlier this year.

Cannone had declared a mistrial in the original proceedings in July of 2023 after jurors were unable to reach a unanimous decision after three weeks of testimony and days of deliberation.

"It's not an anomaly that you'd see a hung jury, especially in a case as contentious as this," Coyne said. "That may very well be where we're at, and what that really means is then the government has to try that case again, in all likelihood. Imagine that."

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