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Defense Rests in Karen Read Trial

Officer Killed-Girlfriend Trial

DEDHAM, Mass. — The defense rested its case Monday in the murder trial of a woman accused of striking her Boston police officer boyfriend with her SUV and leaving him to die in a snowbank.

The defendant, Karen Read, did not take the stand, and after the final three witnesses testified, the judge told jurors they’d heard all of the evidence. Closing arguments will be held Tuesday, with one hour for each side, before jurors begin their deliberations, the judge said.

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The case has been surrounded by a media storm, underpinned by a distrust of police and fanned by crime bloggers.

Read pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Officer John O’Keefe. Prosecutors contend she struck O’Keefe with her SUV and then left the scene in January 2022. He was found unresponsive hours later outside the Canton home of another Boston police officer who was hosting a party. An autopsy found he died of hypothermia and blunt force trauma.

One of the final witnesses was a retired forensic pathologist who testified Monday that some of O’Keefe’s injuries were inconsistent with being struck by the Lexus SUV.

Dr. Frank Sheridan, who worked previously as chief medical examiner for San Bernardino County in California, testified he would’ve expected more bruising if O’Keefe had been hit by such a heavy vehicle. He also suggested that scratch marks on his arm could’ve come from an animal, possibly a dog, and that other injuries were consistent with an altercation.

Two witnesses from an independent consulting firm that conducts forensic engineering also suggested some of the evidence doesn’t line up with the prosecution version. “You can’t deny the science and the physics,” Andrew Rentschler from ARCCA, testified at one point. ARCCA was hired by the FBI as part of a federal investigation into state law enforcement’s handling of the Read case.

Read’s lawyers, who argue that Read was framed, contend O’Keefe was dragged outside after he was beaten up in Brian Albert’s home in Canton and bitten by Albert’s dog. They used Sheridan’s testimony to reinforce their theory about the dog, despite a lack of canine DNA evidence, and to suggest that the injuries don’t line up with being struck by Read’s SUV.

The defense argued that investigators focused on Read because she was a “convenient outsider” who saved them from having to consider other suspects, including Albert and other law enforcement officers who were at the party.

Prosecutors spent most of the two-month trial methodically presenting evidence from the scene. The defense called only a handful of witnesses over two days, but used its time in cross-examining prosecution witnesses to raise questions about the investigation, including conflicts of interest and sloppy police work. The defense was echoed by complaints from a chorus of supporters that often camp outside the courthouse.

Rita Lombardi, a Canton resident who said she’s part of the “sidewalk jury” and has never missed a day of the trial, said the experience at Norfolk County court has demonstrated “failures in the system” that she believes needs to be addressed.

“We know Karen Read was framed. And framed by the people that we trust, that have sworn an oath to protect to serve,” she said. “That is a problem in America.”

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