Jury Fails To Reach Verdict In Karen Read Murder Trial After Defense Claims Of Conspiracy

A mistrial was declared Monday after a jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict in the high-profile trial of a Massachusetts woman accused ofbacking her SUV into her police officer boyfriend and leaving him for dead in the snow.

Karen Read, 44, had pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and leaving the scene of a collision in the Jan. 29, 2022, death of Boston officer John O’Keefe, 46, in Canton.

The jury, which comprised six women and six men, deliberated for more than 23 hours before telling the judge Monday afternoon that they remained “starkly divided” despite their “rigorous efforts” to reach a consensus. Judge Beverly Cannone had ordered them twice over the last week to continue deliberating after they’d said they were deadlocked.

In a note to the judge before a mistrial was declared, the jury foreperson said some jurors believed the case had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, while others believed prosecutors hadn’t established “necessary elements” of the charges.

“The deep division is not due to a lack of effort or diligence but rather a sincere adherence to our individual principles and moral convictions,” the foreperson said. “To continue to deliberate would be futile and only serve to force us to compromise these deeply held beliefs.”

Prosecutors intend to retry the case, District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey said in a statement shared with HuffPost.

The case had deeply divided residents of Canton, Massachusetts, as well as people who followed proceedings on social media.

Karen Read (center) listens on June 21 as the prosecutor questions a witness during her trial in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, Massachusetts. Read is accused of backing into her boyfriend, a Boston police officer, with her SUV and leaving him for dead in the snow after a night of heavy drinking.

Prosecutors argued that O’Keefe died of multiple skull fractures he suffered when Read, who had been drinking heavily and was angry at O’Keefe, struck him with her black Lexus SUV and knocked him to the ground outside the home of veteran police officer Brian Albert, who was hosting a small party. Hypothermia was a factor in his death, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy ruled.

“‘I hit him, I hit him, I hit him, I hit him,’” prosecutor Adam Lally said Tuesday in closing arguments — an alleged admission of guilt by Read that four witnesses testified they heard her say after O’Keefe was found on Jan. 29.

But Read and her attorneys have claimed she framed it as a question: “Did I hit him?” and “Could I have hit him?”

Read’s defense team and her supporters countered that Read was framed in a massive cover-up by state and local authorities. They alleged that O’Keefe’s injuries were caused when he walked into the home Albert shared with his wife, Nicole, and was brutally beaten, attacked by the Alberts’ dog and dragged to the spot outside where he was later found. Police investigators then closed ranks with the Alberts, the defense argued, manufacturing evidence and lying as they sought to frame Read.

“There was a cover-up in this case, plain and simple,” Read’s attorney Alan Jackson told jurors.

The mistrial came after a contentious nine-week trial that had been closely followed on social media by people who believed in Read’s innocence as well as others fascinated by the tangle of evidence and conspiracy theories. Lally, who led the prosecution, called 68 witnesses in 28 days of testimony. Read’s defense team called six witnesses, and Read declined to testify on her own behalf.

Jurors began deliberating Tuesday after attorneys presented their closing arguments.

Cannone addressed the allegations of a bad-faith police investigation in comments to the jury, telling them they were free in their deliberations to consider any failures by investigators to follow standard procedures or conduct certain scientific tests.

Jackson accused the lead investigator, state Trooper Michael Proctor, of deciding early on to “pin it on the girl,” referring to a text Proctor had sent his friends about Read, saying there would be “some serious charges brought on the girl.”

In bombshell testimony, Proctor read aloud in court a number of vulgar and derogatory texts he had sent about Read, which he acknowledged were “unprofessional and regrettable.”

Central to the case, which became known as the “taillight murder,” was a broken right taillight on Read’s SUV. Authorities who said pieces of plastic were found near O’Keefe’s body, said the taillight was damaged when the SUV hit him. Read’s supporters, however, said that home security footage from O’Keefe’s driveway showed Read backing into O’Keefe’s car as she went to look for him and that the broken plastic had been planted by investigators to protect his alleged attackers.

Nicole’s sister, Jennifer McCabe, had invited the couple to the Alberts’ home after they left a bar where they had been socializing. Read woke up hours later at O’Keefe’s house and said she panicked when she discovered he hadn’t returned.

After Read left O’Keefe, she called him 53 times. When she couldn’t find him, she called and texted friends and relatives — but never called 911, said Lally, who played snippets of furious voicemails she left for O’Keefe.

Jackson said the calls contradicted the prosecutors’ contention that she had intentionally killed her boyfriend, saying that the theory “made no sense.”

“What does make sense is that she emotionally moved from anger into panic into grief,” Jackson said.

McCabe and another woman drove Read back to the Alberts’ house, where they discovered O’Keefe lying on his back, not breathing and covered in snow.

McCabe, along with other witnesses, was the subject of harassment by many of Read’s supporters, led by local blogger and activist Aidan Kearney, known as “Turtleboy.” Kearney is now facing criminal charges, includingwitness intimidation, connected to the Read case.

Kearney and Read’s defense team alleged that McCabe made incriminating Google searches on her phone about how long it would take someone to die in the cold at 2:27 a.m., hours before she and Read discovered O’Keefe in the snow.

Prosecutors argued that the timestamps from the cellphone extraction were “unreliable” and that McCabe made the search, at Read’s request, just before 6:30 a.m., after they found O’Keefe’s body.

Read’s supporters grew exponentially from a fringe group of community members fighting against what they believed to be widespread corruption to tens of thousands of people worldwide. One reporter estimated thatmore than 200 of Read’s supporters gathered at the courthouse Monday.

The second-degree murder charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, according to The Associated Press. The penalty for manslaughter while operating under the influence of alcohol ranges from five to 20 years, while the maximum penalty for leaving the scene of personal injury and death is 10 years.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.