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Defense lawyer: Prosecutors framed Karen Read for Boston cop’s murder

Karen Read's attorney accused the state of hiding evidence, falsifying police reports and manipulating evidence.

DEDHAM, Mass. (CN) — Closing arguments wrapped up on Tuesday after 29 days of a high-profile murder trial where 74 witnesses testified and jurors heard two wildly different accounts how Karen Read's boyfriend died.

The 44-year-old Read is accused of hitting her boyfriend, Boston police officer John O’Keefe, with her SUV and leaving him to die in the snow on the front lawn of another Boston cop’s home in Canton, where he was going for an after-party with other cops following a night of barhopping.

Read claims she was framed and corruption was rampant in the January 2022 murder investigation. She pleaded not guilty to murder in the second degree, vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence and leaving the scene of a collision.

Defense attorney Alan Jackson stood tall at the podium in a dark suit and soft red tie as he delivered his closing argument Tuesday morning.

“The incontrovertible fact is that you’ve been lied to in this courtroom,” he said, addressing the jury. “You don’t need to wonder if they lied,” he said of the state’s investigation, “only how many times they lied. There was a cover-up in this case, plain and simple."

He then listed all of discrepancies in the prosecution, barely taking a breath: “Hand-pick your investigator, have secret friends and family meetings to get your story straight, delete your call history, make mysterious phone calls at 2:22 a.m., delete Google searches, monitor police activity, get rid of evidence, get rid of your dog, destroy your phones, destroy your SIM card, let your investigator decide on a narrative early on, don’t go to the crime scene, don’t take witnesses in for questioning, question all the witnesses together, ignore witnesses who don’t fit your narrative, allow friends and family to contact those same witnesses, don’t record interviews, write vague and false police reports, omit witnesses names, omit witnesses interviews all together, don’t photograph the evidence, don’t conduct any forensics, don’t document the evidence, don’t document the log, leave all of the evidence in the hands of one person and then manipulate that evidence."

"Every single one of those things happened right in front of you,” Jackson told jurors.

Read was stoic in a dark long-sleeved shirt that closely circled her neck. Her arms were crossed, pale palms gripping her biceps. Her gaze swiveled from her defense attorneys at the podium to her right to looking straight ahead, highlighted waves framing her face, contrasted by straight, dark roots gently swaying with each movement.

Jackson went on to say the state “desperately resorted” to calling witnesses to talk about the Read's arguments with O'Keefe and “even stooped so low as to call children and put them through this ordeal.” He continued, “All to say that John sometimes got upset because Karen was too kind, too nice and spoiled them too much.”

The defense attorney pitched a series of events that contradicts prosecutors' claims — “John walked into that house after Karen drove away” — and presented the defense theory that the family dog who lived at the house was responsible for deep scratches found on O’Keefe’s arm, which testifying experts said are consistent with injuries from an animal attack.

Experts described O’Keeke’s other injuries as “consistent with a physical alteration,” including a head wound, a laceration above his eye and injuries to his nose, tongue and the back of his hands — all of which prosecutors couldn't explain, Jackson argued.

“Most importantly,” Jackson said, “they cannot and haven’t even tried to explain the lack of injury to John’s body from the neck down. Nothing. He was pristine."

“The science proves John was beaten,” Jackson said, underscoring the defense’s claims that O’Keefe was killed inside the home after Read dropped him off.

“There are more unexplained things,” Jackson continued: The homeowner’s sister-in-law searched on Google at 2:27 a.m. for “how long does it take to die in the cold,” which was five minutes after the homeowner called another officer and had a 22-second conversation that prosecutors claim was a “butt dial.”

Jackson contrasted this information with Read’s actions, saying that when Read realized O’Keefe never made it home, she called him repeatedly before finding his body on the front lawn of the house where she’d left him.

“The commonwealth wants you to believe she murdered this man, and then after that murder, she called him 53 times. It makes no sense,” Jackson said.

Seeking to back up the notion that corruption led to his client's prosecution, Jackson commented on the lead investigator on the case, Michael Proctor, who has multiple personal connections to the officers who were with O’Keefe in his last hours — and who texted his friends saying he was looking for nudes on Read’s confiscated phone.

“Michael Proctor didn’t draw a thin blue line,” Jackson said. “He erected a tall blue wall. A wall that you can’t scale. A wall between us and them.”

Immediately after Jackson used all of the hour allotted for his closing argument, prosecutor Adam Lally approached the podium.

“Let me first address Trooper Proctor,” Lally said, wearing a blue suit and shiny silver tie.

“The text messages from Trooper Proctor are unprofessional. They’re indefensible. They’re inexcusable,” he stated before going on to say the distasteful messages “had no bearing whatsoever or impact whatsoever on the integrity of the entirety of the investigation.”

Lally focused on Read’s statements to the first responders to the scene of the crime; she shouted, “I hit him” and “I did this.”

“Those were words,” Lally said, “that came from the defendant’s mouth.”

Read also saw O’Keefe’s body under the snow while “no one else” did, Lally argued, because she knew exactly where he would be. Others testified they didn’t see O’Keefe until Read pointed him out.

“All of the testimony tells you the same consistent account,” Lally said, adding that there were no footprints around the body.

The prosecutor reminded jurors about the arguments Read would have with O’Keefe, whose niece and nephew both testified to the couple’s frequent fights, and that O’Keefe told a friend Read was “crazy.”

And the source of the scratches on O’Keefe’s arm, Lally said, was plastic found on the curb that had “dimples” on it. There was no DNA on his clothes or under his fingernails, indicting he had not been in a fight.

Instead, O’Keefe’s clothing had microscopic pieces of Read's taillight on it.

This “demonstrates her guilt,” Lally said as a final word to the jury before asking for Read's conviction.

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