Karen Read

Your questions about the Karen Read trial, answered

Send us a question at canton.confidential@nbcuni.com

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The highly-publicized Karen Read murder trial has drawn attention across the globe. Read is accused of striking her Boston police officer boyfriend, John O'Keefe, with her SUV and leaving him for dead in a snowbank.

O'Keefe died in Canton, Massachusetts, on Jan. 29, 2022. Prosecutors say Read dropped him off at a house party after a night of drinking, struck him while making a three-point turn and drove away.

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Read has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and other charges, and her defense team argues that she has been framed. O'Keefe's body was found on the front lawn of another officer, and the defense argues the homeowner's relationship with local and state police tainted their investigation.

Since the start of the trial, NBC10 Boston's nightly "Canton Confidential" show has been recapping the testimony and answering your questions about the case. Here are some of the viewer questions we've answered so far:

Question: How can the prosecution make objections without any grounds for said objection? I thought that objections had to be based on something (argumentative, leading, etc.). Is it a Massachusetts thing?

Morjieta Derisier, criminal defense attorney with Baystate Law Group: So just on the basis, objections are to preserve the record. Whoever wins or loses is going to appeal. Whover the appeals attorney is is going to look at the record. You can only preserve what you object. Each judge will have their own flavor or style whether you can state your objection or not, but the judge for the most part, from what I’m seeing, understands what the objection is and is taking her stance on what that could be. Or they may go to sidebar where they have full discussions on what the objection is.

Q: My question is: why is the family of John O’Keefe sitting next to the defense team, and the family of Karen Read sitting behind?

Sue O’Connell, NBC10 Boston commentator and analyst: So remember, the courtroom got moved. Alan jackson on the defense noticed that four jurors in the old courtroom couldn’t see the witness straight on. The judge agreed to move to a smaller courtoorm which is not built for this. It really only holds about 60 people. It’s kind of like a U-shape. In front of the press you’ve got the O’Keefe family and supporters, and behind Karen Read and the defense table, you have her friends and family and supporters – two rows of five on each side. It’s a really cramped and intimate setting and the reason you keep seeing O’Keefe’s family is because that’s where the camera is.

Q: Can the defense file a motion for summary judgment? Essentially showing the prosecutor hasn’t proven their case? Obviously, there’s likely a lot more witnesses ahead, but when the prosecution rests, I’m wondering if the defense would file such a pleading?

Michael Coyne, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law: Not summary judgment – that’s a civil term. But you can move for a required finding of not guilty, saying that the government has not met its burden of proof. You have to wait until the government rests… and obviously until they rest you can’t be certain of what the balance of their proof is, so [the judge] won’t short cut it before that. The question now, and that’s a legitimate question, is is there enough evidence for a reasonable jury to be able to find her guilty. I’m not so sure of that top charge. The second-degree murder, as I’ve said all along, the level of intent, the grossly reckless, we aren’t seeing that. There’s certainly not an intentional killing we’ve seen evidence of.

Q: Why can’t we get full days of actual trial?

Morjieta Derisier, criminal defense attorney with Baystate Law Group: It’s really not that unusual. As big as this case is, there are a lot of other court cases that are happening in the courthouse, and honestly, the jurors need a break too. It’s a lot to consume in a short amount of time.

Q: If the jury says not guilty, can she [Karen Read] be charged again in a federal investigation? Same charges or different? If the jury says not guilty, is she entitled to money from the court fees etc.?

Michael Coyne, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law: She could be charged with a federal offense if in fact there were federal offenses here. We saw that in the Rodney King case in California w here there was an acquittal on the criminal charge for the police officers and then they were charged federally with civil rights violations. I don’t see where civil rights violations would land here, so I don’t think you’re likely to see that and I don’t see her receiving court fees.

Q: I’m also watching the Chad Daybell trial in Idaho in which the judge does not allow witnesses to watch the trial or talk to other witnesses. Is that the same in this case?

Michael Coyne, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law: Yes, generally you move to exclude the witnesses from the courtroom so they can’t listen to each other’s testimony and conform their stories to what they’ve heard happen. So here, the witnesses can’t be physically present but we also don’t want them watching TV. You don’t want them rehearsing their testimony and making it conform with other witnesses.

Q: Why is having a dead body on the property/front lawn not considered probable cause to search the home?

Peter Elikann, criminal defense attorney: I say there’s probable cause to the 10th power. I mean, somebody’ s expected at a party at that house, the next morning they see his body in front of the house on a lawn. That’s enough. Was there anything going on in the house? How about the people inside? And if there was any question in the police officer’s mind, he could’ve gone and gotten a search warrant and been back in 45 mins. That is absolutely probable cause.

Q: Why is the prosecution calling these witnesses? What good does putting Colin [Albert] on the stand do?

Morjieta Derisier, criminal defense attorney with Baystate Law Group: I’ll be very honest, I’m asking myself a lot of these same questions. I know the prosecution needs to prove each and every element of the crimes that they’re trying to assert against Karen Read, but it’s taking them a really long time to get to each and every point. I’ve said it before, it’s a slow pace to that. Maybe it’s part of their strategy – I’m not 100 percent sure. At this point we haven’t even gotten the medical information that he has died.

Q: If Karen is found not guilty, what will happen to all the associated parties?

Katherine Loftus, Boston attorney with Loftus & Loftus PC: I think it’s so that everybody asks often if she’s found not guilty will they go after whoever, no they won’t. The commonwealth thinks Karen Read is guilty. We don’t want a system where we, you know, charge one person, try them and if they’re found not guilty, we try to find the next person. We want the commonwealth to decide who they think it is. In terms of a civil suit, I think it’s an uphill battle for Karen Read if she’s found not guilty. If evidence comes out that she’s actually innocent, certainly she can file a civil lawsuit. Whether that’s successful, that’s another issue.

Q: Does returning to the scene of the crime have an influence on a jury in a case?

Michael Coyne, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law: Well, the testimony today seemed to indicate that as soon as she [Karen Read] got there she knew where the body was, and that could be very telling and that may well impact the jury’s decision here. But normally, I mean, they’re going back in these circumstances to look for him to see if somehow he might still be alive or be missing or be in the house. The fact is in these circumstances, other than Kerry Roberts says [Read] knew right away he was there, there’s really no significant detrimental effect for her.

Q: John O’Keefe had security cameras. The bars had security cameras. I’ve not heard this question asked, but wouldn’t [Boston] Police Officer Brian Albert have security cameras at his house? Or any of their neighbors… would Ring or a similar company have anything in their archives?

Morjieta Derisier, criminal defense attorney with Baystate Law Group: I wonder whether or not it has been addressed in pretrial. Some of that information may not be relevant or it may be some privacy information that would preclude them from introducing that. But I think that would be helpful to at least see what was captured in the neighborhood. I don’t know what other evidence will be presented, but I hope we get something like that.

Q: How could there be broken glass on the bumper or apparent hair on the car when it was towed to the Canton Police Department in a blizzard? It also sat there for many months before anything was done to it.

Katherine Loftus, Boston attorney with Loftus & Loftus PC: I actually had less of a question about the glass. The glass I thought "Maybe it's cold, it's January, they could be frozen." Then when they come back, it's in the sallyport, the snow's melting, things like that. The hair was a little bit more suspect to me. I don't know, I'm not an expert about how deeply it has to be embedded into a taililight or things like that to stick, but I think the interesting thing is the alternative theory, the inference from the defense that it's maybe planted somehow. I wonder how you plant a piece of hair on a vertical car and have that stick for two days before it's picked up with a pair of tweezers. I think that the evidence coming out is not really showing anything. It's just leading me to have more questions than answers at this point, which is not favorable to the Commonwealth."

Q: Why wouldn't the Commonwealth put their lead investigator, [Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael] Proctor, on the stand? That just leads me to think he has done something wrong.

Katherine Loftus, Boston attorney with Loftus & Loftus PC: So I think probably he's not the first person on the stand because he's the worst witness, most likely, for the Commonwealth. So I wouldn't have necessarily led with him. There's been a lot of speculation outside that he's not going to be called. I have not come to that conclusion yet, because the defense ultimately is going to call him. It is what it is. It's going to come in one way or another, whether the Commonwealth calls him or the defense calls him... So if you don't call him, that leaves a question for the jury. If he's bad, he's bad -- you just have to take it head on and try to remedy it as best you can.

Q: In the initial stages of the trial, Attorney Yannetti always opened his cross examination by confirming with each witness that they had never met him before. I noticed he stopped doing that after about a week.

Sue O’Connell, NBC10 Boston commentator and analyst: I'm going to guess, as a communications expert, that one of the reasons Yannetti is doing that is those witnesses are part of a group that knew each other, and he was making a point that they should have recused themselves from the investigation... He was demonstrating to the jury how easy it would have been. That was a modeling behavior. So without telling people, "This is what you should do," that was him modeling behavior to the jury and communicating to them that's what these people should have done.

Q: Guilty or not guilty I think it is so disrespectful for Karen and her attorney Jackson to laugh during breaks. From what I have seen she has shown no emotion but can find a chance to laugh and smile. John's mom is sitting so close to her and I feel it is awful for them to laugh in front of her.

Sue O’Connell, NBC10 Boston commentator and analyst: Karen Read and the defense team are living in a very different world than the O'Keefes are living in. And again, remember we're in this tiny, tiny, tiny courtroom, so we're all sitting up on top of each other. And Karen is not, I think, displaying emotion that some people might think considering John was her boyfriend and regardless of what you think he is dead and he was killed tragically. There is a disconnect there. I'm not sure how the jury is reacting to that.

Q: So they're showing all [John O'Keefe's] clothing and no mention of his baseball hat he was wearing at the bar. He had injuries to his head. Where's his hat?

Glenn Jones, NBC10 Boston anchor: This is one of the evidence photos presented in court today. It's of John O'Keefe's hat, flattened in the snow. Sgt. Bukhenik testified to finding the hat on Feb. 3, several days after O'Keefe was found in that same area of the yard. But there is an explanation to why it may have taken so long to find. According to Bukhenik, he, Trooper [Michael] Proctor and another trooper had returned to 34 Fairview to look for more evidence once the snow had started to melt.

Q: With Thursday's testimony about the inverted and time altered video of the sallyport, is that reason for the case to be dismissed or a mistrial declared? Doesn't altered or false evidence infringe on one's right to a fair trial?

Morjieta Derisier, criminal defense attorney with Baystate Law Group: So you know, this is a really, really important piece about conduct. Both sides, prosecution and defense, have rules of ethics that we're suposed to abide by. What they're talking about is a grave injustice, if in fact they had evidence not only that was tampered, but tampered to their favor. So it's very possible they could get a dismissal or mistrial by misleading the jury, which is a huge no in criminal defense. Intention is hard to prove, right? But they'll be able to identify who had the video in play, how long they had it, how long it was uploaded... Either way that wasn't really good.

Q: I am no attorney, but do you really think that attorney [Alan] Jackson really called the other witness Proctor by accident?

Sue O’Connell, NBC10 Boston commentator and analyst: No, I don't (think that was calculated). because now that I'm sitting here watching these people, for 20 days at least, his body language made it clear he had made a mistake. I think if he had done it intentionally, I think he would've taken a beat... You could tell (Jackson) was a little off his footing with the back and forth there.

Q: Why hasn't a medical professional been asked how John O'Keefe died: hit by a car or beat up?

Morjieta Derisier, criminal defense attorney with Baystate Law Group: We talked about this earlier, about the strategy of the prosecution and the order in which they're calling people. Sometimes that can be a little bit confusing, and I think that question really is why. But they will have to call a medical professional that will point as to the cause of death.

Q: With so many potential witnesses still to be called, why do they have so many days off?

Morjieta Derisier, criminal defense attorney with Baystate Law Group: It has surprised me, but it also has not surprised me. The court does have other business that they have going on, but the jurors also need a break, so a lot of it is to give them breaks, a lot of it is to hear other cases. I think that's the reality of why there are so many breaks in this case.

Q: Wy wouldn't investigators help melt the snow to look for evidence?

Danielle Noyes, forensic meteorologist: It's less common than you think, for a couple of different reasons -- number one is they want to preserve the evidence, so introducing what could be a heat source could contaminate the evidence. It could also damage the evidence. Instead, sometimes these investigators have special tools to either brush it away or shovel it away. Melting snow can take a while, and in this case it was a blizzard and they had an epic amount of snow measured in feet -- 30.9 inches one town over. This was a little bit of an extreme scenario in terms of the snow that fell.

Q: Did the defense just lose a huge opportunity? They did not cross examine the Dighton officer when he said he observed the tail light was cracked.

Katherine Loftus, Boston attorney with Loftus & Loftus PC: I actually don't think that they did. I thought it was strategic that they didn't ask the questions. The commonwealth got out that there was a crack and a piece missing. Instantly, my followers when I'm streaming were asking, 'How big is the piece?'... Because the commonwealth didn't get out what size it was and therefore how many pieces it could've been cracked into, the defense just left it and therefore then they can potentially argue, 'It was just one piece' -- the Dighton officer who saw it in Karen Read's driveway, he only saw a crack, he didn't see the entire thing missing, he didn't see multiple pieces missing. So I think the inference the'll try and argue -- maybe in a closing statement -- is that, in fact, it wasn't all gone... Sometimes if you don't need to ask a question, you just let it be."

Do you have a question related to the Karen Read trial that you’d like us to answer? Send us a question at canton.confidential@nbcuni.com.

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