Defense highlights internet search for hypothermia in Karen Read murder trial

A lawyer for a Massachusetts woman accused of killing her Boston police officer boyfriend tried to implicate a key prosecution witness at the woman's trial Wednesday, accusing the witness of conducting an incriminating internet search hours before the man's body was discovered and then deleting the search to cover her tracks.

Karen Read is accused of striking John O’Keefe with her SUV on Jan. 29, 2022, and leaving him for dead in a snowbank in the Boston suburb of Canton. She has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and other charges.

The case has garnered national attention because the defense alleges that state and local law enforcement officials framed Read and allowed the real killer to go free. O’Keefe’s body was found outside the home of another Boston police officer, Brian Albert, and the defense argues his relationship with local and state police tainted their investigation.

After a night out drinking at several bars, prosecutors say Read dropped O’Keefe off at a house party hosted by Albert and his wife just after midnight. As she made a three-point turn, prosecutors say, she struck O’Keefe before driving away. She returned hours later to find him in a snowbank.

Jennifer McCabe, a friend of the couple and Albert's sister-in-law, previously testified that soon after O'Keefe's body was found, Read screamed, “I hit him! I hit him! I hit him!” and frantically asked her to conduct a Google search on how long it takes for someone to die of hypothermia.

But Read’s attorney showed jurors cellphone data Wednesday that suggested McCabe also did an internet search for variations of “how long to die in cold” four hours earlier.

“You made that search at 2:27 am because you knew that John O’Keefe was outside on your sister’s lawn dying in the cold, didn’t you?” attorney Alan Jackson asked McCabe. “Did you delete that search because you knew you would be implicated in John O’Keefe’s death if that search was found on your phone?”

“I did not delete that search. I never made that search,” McCabe said. “I never would have left John O’Keefe out in the cold to die because he was my friend that I loved.”

Jackson said it was “awfully convenient” that McCabe disavowed the search, which he said would exonerate his client. He also pressed McCabe on why she told grand jurors a dozen times that Read said, “Did I hit him?” or “Could I have hit him,” and not the definitive, “I hit him” that she now says she heard.

He suggested McCabe changed her story after experiencing what she has described as “vicious” harassment from Read’s supporters.

“You were upset by April of 2023 that there was public outrage about your family being involved in the death of John O’Keefe,” he said. “And two months later, in June of 2023, for the first time, you testified at another proceeding, and lo and behold, you attributed the words ‘I hit him’ to my client.”

McCabe acknowledged that she first used those words under oath in June but insisted she also had told an investigator the same thing in the days after O’Keefe’s death.

She also described “daily, near hourly” harassment directed at her family, including a “rolling rally” past her home, though the judge warned jurors that there is no evidence Read herself orchestrated it and that it shouldn’t be used against her.

“I was outraged because I am a state witness that is being tortured because of lies," McCabe said. “I am not on trial, and these people are terrorizing me.”