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Mistrial Declared in High-Profile Karen Read Murder Case: Jury Deadlocked on Verdict

Town Law Publishing July 2, 2024

Woman walking out of courthouseDedham, Mass. — A mistrial was declared Monday after a Massachusetts jury of six women and six men informed the judge they were hopelessly deadlocked in the murder trial of Karen Read. Read is accused of hitting her boyfriend, John O’Keefe, with an SUV and leaving him to die in a snowstorm.

The jury sent notes to the judge on Friday and Monday, stating their inability to reach a unanimous verdict. “We continue to find ourselves at an impasse,” they wrote. “Our perspectives on the evidence are starkly divided. Some members of the jury firmly believe the evidence surpasses the burden of proof establishing the elements of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Conversely, others find the evidence fails to meet this standard and does not sufficiently establish the necessary elements of the charges.”

Judge Beverly Cannone declared the mistrial after reading the note aloud. Defense attorney Alan Jackson responded emphatically outside the courthouse, stating, “They failed. They failed miserably and they’ll continue to fail. No matter how long it takes, no matter how long they keep trying, we will not stop fighting. We have no quit.”

Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey announced plans to retry the case, expressing gratitude to the O’Keefe family for their dedication. “The Commonwealth intends to re-try the case,” Morrissey’s office stated.

Karen Read, 44, of Mansfield, faced charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter while operating under the influence of alcohol, and leaving the scene of personal injury and death. Her defense claims that O’Keefe, a Boston police officer, was beaten in a basement and bitten by a dog before being dragged outside. Read, a former adjunct professor at Bentley University, pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Woman sitting in court

The case garnered significant media attention and public interest, with large crowds of supporters often wearing pink gathered outside the courthouse. The trial was marked by heated arguments from both sides. Defense attorney Jackson accused the prosecution of a cover-up, suggesting that evidence, including an inverted video of Read’s SUV, was manipulated to protect other law enforcement officers.

“Ladies and gentlemen, there was a cover-up in this case, plain and simple,” Jackson told the jury.

Prosecutor Adam Lally presented a detailed timeline, emphasizing testimonies from first responders who claimed they heard Read say, “I hit him.” Lally argued, “Those were the words that came from the defendant’s mouth.”

The defense countered that these witnesses either changed their stories or couldn’t have heard the comments due to the chaotic scene. They accused investigators of focusing on Read to protect other suspects, including fellow officers present at the party.

“Michael Proctor didn’t draw a thin blue line; he erected a tall blue wall,” Jackson said, referring to the state trooper leading the investigation. “A wall that you can’t scale, a wall that Karen Read certainly couldn’t get over. A wall between us and them. A place you folk are not invited. We protect our own.”

The trial also brought controversy surrounding Trooper Michael Proctor, who was relieved from duty and transferred out of the detective unit following the mistrial. Proctor is now under a state police internal affairs investigation after messages surfaced in which he called Read derogatory names.

The parties are due back in court on July 22 for a status conference. As the legal battle continues, the community remains divided and the search for justice for John O’Keefe goes on.