How did Boston Police Officer John O'Keefe die in January 2022? The second-degree murder case hasn't gone to trial yet, but lawyers both sides gave hints at their arguments in court Wednesday as they debated access to evidence.
Karen Read has been charged with hitting O'Keefe, her boyfriend, with her SUV that night, then leaving him to die in the snow outside a home in Canton, Massachusetts. Her lawyers call the case corrupt, arguing that evidence they don't have — including O'Keefe's clothes and the whereabouts of a dog that lived at the home — will clear her name.
Prosecutors fired back, calling the search for the dog a fishing expedition.
The arguments from Read's attorneys, made in court filings as they've alleged a large-scale coverup, have sparked speculation and intense interest in Canton and beyond. The defense filed evidence they described as "bombshell" last month alleging someone inside the house searched the phrase "Ho[w] long to die in cold" hours before 911 was called to report he was in the snow, and the Norfolk District Attorney's Office had said it would respond in court.
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"The remaining evidence will drive a stake through the heart of this prosecution. In the meantime, my client suffers," defense attorney David Yannetti said.
At Wednesday's hearing, much of the debate centered on scratches found on O'Keefe's arm and what might have caused it. Read's attorneys are looking to test his arm to see if he was attacked by the homeowner's dog, which the owner told a grand jury was inside the house the whole time.
Norfolk County Assistant District Attorney David Lally wondered why the defense didn't discuss shards of glass recovered from Read's SUV and why people inside the home didn't testify about O'Keefe ever going inside.
"Are they in the conspiracy or are these people sort of left out of the conspiracy?" he said.
No major decisions came out of the hearing. Prosecutors expect state crime lab testing that the defense was hoping to see to be finished by Friday, and the judge was considering other requests over the evidence, which will she'll rule by a motion.
Read is next due in court for a hearing over cellphone data and log requests involving the homeowner on May 25.
She didn't comment on what happened in court after Wednesday's hearing.
Read and O'Keefe had been drinking at a bar on the night of Jan. 28, 2022, with a group that included the residents of the home. Read's attorneys have said she dropped O'Keefe off at the house in Canton a short time after 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 29 and left.
On April 12, the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office acknowledged receiving the new motion from the defense team and said it was not yet clear if the defense was interpreting the information correctly. A week later, the district attorney's office issued a statement saying that they plan to have a "detailed response" to the court on May 3 "that refutes the assertions in that motion."
However, the Boston Herald obtained the prosecution's filing, which calls the defense request "a fishing expedition" that doesn't offer "any relevant statements or new factual support." This motion, prosecutors said, should be similarly denied.
NBC10 Boston reached out to the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office for comment on the claims raised by the defense team in April, and a representative noted at that time that the office is bound not to discuss cases outside of court.
"While prosecutors are ethically constrained in the statements that can be made outside the courtroom, the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office is in receipt of the motion filed today but it has not yet been determined that defense has interpreted the raw data correctly. The Norfolk District Attorney's Office has asked defense repeatedly during the pendency of this matter to provide any actually exculpatory evidence to support their claims," spokesman David Traub said in the statement. "Our formal and detailed response to the motion will be to the Court on or after May 3, 2023."
Read's lawyers said they were eager to presenting the evidence at Wednesday's hearing.