Karen Read’s Lawyers: Jurors Were Ready to Acquit Her of Murder Before Mistrial

David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The jury “sharply divided” over Karen Read’s guilt in the death of her Boston police officer boyfriend were only hopelessly deadlocked on a charge of manslaughter, and were unanimously poised to acquit her of murder and leaving the scene of a deadly accident before a judge declared a mistrial in the case, her lawyers claimed in a Monday court filing.

Read’s defense team, Alan Jackson and David Yannetti, are seeking to get both the latter charges thrown out. Retrying Read on those counts, they argued, would constitute a violation of double jeopardy protections, a constitutional clause that prohibits a person from being prosecuted twice for the same crime.

The lawyers said in their motion to dismiss that Jackson had been contacted last Tuesday, a day after the mistrial was declared, by a juror, who told him that the jury had unanimously agreed Read was not guilty of second-degree murder, nor of fleeing the crime scene.

Yannetti said in his own affidavit that he’d heard much the same from two people in contact with two other jurors. He added that one of these informants had provided screenshots from a conversation with a juror in which they wrote, “I thought the prosecution didn’t prove the case. No one thought she hit him on purpose.”

Read, 44, was arrested in February 2022, a month after John O’Keefe’s death. Prosecutors alleged that she hit him with her SUV and left him for dead in the snow outside another officer’s home. During closing arguments, a prosecutor honed in on Read’s words in the minutes after his body was discovered the next morning: “I hit him, I hit him, I hit him, I hit him.”

Police Investigator in Karen Read Case ‘Relieved of Duty’

At trial, her lawyers have thrown the facts under a different light, portraying O’Keefe’s killing as a concerted cover-up by his fellow officers, who they said had fatally beaten him after a gathering at the suburban home. Authorities have denied any conspiracy in the case.

Judge Beverly J. Cannone declared a mistrial after having been passed several notes from jurors saying they were at an impasse over the course of five days of deliberations. One, passed to her last Monday morning, declared that the jury had “fundamental differences in our opinions,” and that “consensus is unattainable.”

The final note was given to Cannone on Monday afternoon. “Our perspectives on the evidence are starkly divided,” the jury wrote. “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.”

Cannone said she’d “never seen a note like this” before. But before declaring a mistrial, she failed to ask the jury any followup questions, including about the counts they were deadlocked on, according to Jackson and Yannetti.

Karen Read Mistrial Adds Fuel to the Fire in Boston’s True-Crime Thriller

“Had the Court so inquired, it appears clear that NOT GUILTY verdicts would have been recorded for Count 1 and Count 3,” they wrote. “Ms. Read was denied her right to receive those verdicts in her favor.”

The lawyers added in their filing that they were also deprived of the right to speak before the mistrial was declared.

The Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office said shortly after the mistrial was declared that it intended to retry Read. A spokesperson told Boston station WFXT on Monday that prosecutors were “examining the motion in anticipation of filing a response.”

A status hearing in the case is set for July 22.

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