Karen Read Was ‘Seething’ After Killing Cop Boyfriend, Prosecutor Says

Kayla Bartkowski/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Kayla Bartkowski/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Karen Read allegedly had nine drinks in three hours during a January 2022 blizzard bar crawl before prosecutors say she rammed her cop boyfriend with her SUV and left him to die while “seething in rage.”

“What she’s doing is she’s getting shot glasses of vodka and then pouring them in the drink,” Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally told Norfolk Superior Court jurors in his closing argument on Tuesday, shortly before jurors began deliberating.

Hours later, John O’Keefe, a 16-year veteran of the Boston Police Department, was found lying unconscious on a fellow officer’s snow-covered front lawn with a bleeding forehead contusion, swollen eyes, and initial stages of frostbite. As authorities descended upon the chaotic scene, Lally said, Read was screaming that her boyfriend’s death was all her fault, repeating, “I hit him. I hit him. Oh my God. I hit him.”

But the emotional outburst was starkly different from Read’s views on her boyfriend as she dropped him off at a party after the bar crawl.

“She’s screaming, ‘John, I (expletive) hate you!,’” said Lally, who played jurors an irate voicemail Read left O’Keefe as she drove away.

Read, a former Bentley College adjunct professor, has been at the center of a case that has garnered national attention and sharply divided the Boston suburb of Canton. Throughout her two-month trial, 74 witnesses have been called to shed light on what exactly happened that booze-filled snowy night.

Karen Read’s Lawyer Goes Scorched Earth on Key Witness

Read, 44, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, manslaughter while driving under the influence, and leaving the scene of a crime, and faces a life sentence if convicted. Prosecutors say she drunkenly hit and killed O’Keefe, leaving him to die in a snowbank, before returning to the scene six hours later with two other women.

Her defense team and supporters insist the trial is the latest example of a “tall blue wall” built to protect the cops truly responsible for O’Keefe’s death.

“Pick your patsy and pin it on the girl,” defense lawyer Alan Jackson said on Tuesday about the investigators’ mindset, insisting that prosecutors have committed a “character assassination” of his client.

In his closing argument, Jackson argued Read was being “framed” for O’Keefe’s death and is the victim of an elaborate police cover-up.

He insisted to jurors that the prosecution’s case “spreads into a conspiracy” and that O’Keefe was actually fatally beaten, attacked by a dog, and left on a fellow cop’s front lawn long after Read had dropped him off and left. The decision to pin the blame on Read, he argued, was because she was a “convenient outsider” from the tight-night law enforcement bubble that once included her boyfriend.

“You’re the only thing standing between Karen Read and the tyranny of injustice,” he added. “Your job is to make sure you don’t ever ever look the other away.”

O’Keefe was ultimately pronounced dead at a local hospital, and an autopsy concluded he died from head trauma and hypothermia.

“She seemed to be the one that was the most personally affected by it. She was the most distressed on the scene,” Canton Firefighter Anthony Flematti testified about Read’s reaction.

Dr. Frank Sheridan, a retired forensic pathologist and former San Bernardino County chief medical examiner, testified that O’Keefe suffered from bruising that suggests more trauma than just being hit by a car—and that he also had scratch marks on his arm. Other defense witnesses said that damage to Read's car, including a broken taillight, was also not consistent with O’Keefe’s injuries.

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