Maura Healey

Healey: Trooper's ‘terrible' behavior in Karen Read case harms law enforcement

Trooper Michael Proctor was a lead investigator on the case and his testimony revealed he made multiple disparaging remarks about Read to friends, family and even his supervisors

NBC Universal, Inc.

The testimony this week of a lead State Police investigator in the Karen Read murder case was "terrible" and tarnishes the integrity of law enforcement, Gov. Maura Healey said Thursday while also declining to weigh in further on the closely-watched trial.

Read is accused of backing her car into her Boston police officer boyfriend, John O'Keefe, and leaving him to die outside a Canton home in January 2022. Her attorneys contend she is being framed as part of a larger cover-up and the trial has attracted the attention of the media and internet sleuths from around the world.



Watch NBC10 Boston news for free, 24/7, wherever you are.


Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.

Trooper Michael Proctor was a lead investigator on the case and took the stand in Dedham District Court this week. During cross-examination, Read's attorneys had Proctor read aloud text messages he sent to other troopers and friends disparaging Read, commenting on her physical appearance using vulgar language, suggesting he had made up his mind based on evidence as to Read's guilt, and saying he wished Read would kill herself.

"It's terrible ... it's completely unprofessional. It does harm, frankly, to the dignity and the integrity of the work of men and women across the State Police and law enforcement. So as a former attorney general and as governor, I am disgusted by that," Healey told reporters Thursday afternoon when asked about Proctor's texts.

Prosecutors called scientists and DNA analysts to the stand Thursday in the murder trial against Karen Read; meanwhile, outside, a protester was dressed as a red Solo cup.

Proctor, who is based in Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey's office, is also designated as the lead officer on the Brian Walshe murder case, which involves allegations that Walshe murdered and dismembered his wife in their Cohasset home in early 2023. NBC10 Boston reported this week that legal experts think Proctor's testimony in the Read case could undermine cases he has been involved with.

Tracy Miner, a criminal defense attorney of more than 30 years, said there is likely a scramble taking place behind the scenes involving other cases Proctor has touched.

Miner, who at one time represented Walshe, spoke generally with NBC10 Boston about the impact of Proctor's testimony could have on other cases.

Defense attorneys will wonder if there is exculpatory evidence—details that might help a defendant win a case—that should have been turned over to their side.

In criminal cases, Miner said any communication that expresses bias should be provided to defense counsel by prosecutors.

Cross-examination of Michael Proctor, who led the investigation into John O'Keefe's death and acknowledged texting his sister that he hoped Karen Read would "kill herself," wrapped up Wednesday.

“They should be going through to see if there’s any comments about cases pending or closed where information should have been disclosed,” Miner said. “I think they have an absolute obligation to go back and make sure that this agent hasn’t said things about other defendants in the past.”

For previous cases to get overturned, Miner explained that the legal bar is high.

Defendants would not just have to prove that evidence showing bias should have been turned over, but also that the details would have materially affected the outcome of the case.”

Proctor’s personal text messages with his wife, his sister, and his high school friends only came to light because of the rare involvement of the federal government, and its investigation into how the case was handled.

The “unprofessional and regrettable” communication was among the thousands of pages of documents turned over to both sides by the U.S. Attorney’s Office prior to trial.

Healey took only one question from reporters on the Read trial Thursday and said she could not say any more.

"This is the subject of a criminal investigation and trial, and therefore it's not appropriate for me to speak more to that at this time," she said.

NBC10 Boston and State House News Service
Contact Us