Karen Read: What to know about the murder trial as jury deliberates

By Ana FaguyBBC News, Washington

grey placeholderGetty Images Karen Read stands in the doorway in a black pant suitGetty Images

The trial of Karen Read, who is accused of murdering her boyfriend in January 2022, has garnered a massive internet following that has ultimately drawn massive crowds outside the courthouse.

The jury tasked with rendering a verdict in the trial is now deliberating and could ultimately decide Ms Read’s fate.

The case surrounds Boston police officer John O’Keefe, who was found unresponsive in the snow outside a colleague’s suburban home in January 2022 and later pronounced dead.

His girlfriend, Ms Read, was charged in his murder – though she maintains her innocence.

She faces multiple charges and is accused of dropping Mr O’Keefe off at a fellow police officer’s home after a night of drinking, hitting him with her car and driving away from the scene.

Here is everything else you need to know about the case.

grey placeholderGetty Images Karen Read supporters gather outside the courthouse wearing pinkGetty Images

Supporters of Karen Read routinely gather outside the courthouse

Who are Karen Read and John O’Keefe?

Before the case, Ms Read, 44, worked as an adjunct professor at Bentley University and an equity analyst at Fidelity Investments.

She and Mr O’Keefe were together for about two years before his 2022 death, but the latter part of the pair’s relationship was troubled, prosecutors said during their case.

Mr O’Keefe spent 16 years with the Boston Police Department before his death. He was 46 when he died.

Ms Read faces multiple charges, including second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and leaving the scene of a collision resulting in death.

If she is found guilty of second-degree murder, she could face a maximum sentence of life in prison under Massachusetts law.

She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

A recap of the prosecution’s case

Prosecutors allege the couple were drinking the evening before Mr O’Keefe’s body was found.

Ms Read allegedly dropped her boyfriend off at a house party. When leaving she made a three-point turn and struck Mr O’Keefe and then drove away, according to prosecutors.

She returned to the party a few hours later with two other women and found Mr O’Keefe in a snowbank.

His cause of death was later determined to be blunt force trauma to the head and hypothermia, NBC News reported.

Throughout their case, prosecutors alleged the couple had a rocky relationship.

They claim Ms Read intentionally struck her then-boyfriend with her car because of their relationship problems.

Mr O’Keefe’s brother, Paul O’Keefe, was among the people called to the stand who detailed the couple’s disagreements.

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John O’Keefe’s brother, Paul O’Keefe, was among the people who testified during the murder trial

A recap of the defence’s case

Ms Read did not take the stand as part of her defence.

Instead, her lawyers argued that she was framed, and that investigators had inappropriate relationships with witnesses and others involved in the case.

The defence claimed Mr O’Keefe was beaten inside the house party and later dragged outside where he was found.

Much of the case they presented focused on what the defence called a poorly done investigation into O’Keefe’s death by local law enforcement.

Some of the investigators who oversaw the case knew the police officers who attended the house party that January night, the defence claimed.

For example, the lead investigator, Massachusetts State Trooper Michael Proctor, admitted he was friends with the the Boston police office who hosted the party where Mr O’Keefe died.

Ms Read was a “convenient outsider” who was targeted to ensure investigators did not look at other suspects, the defence alleged.

Among the witnesses who took the stand as part of the defence’s case was a retired forensic pathologist, Dr Frank Sheridan.

He claimed that Mr O’Keefe’s body would have had more bruising if it were hit by a heavy vehicle, according to the Associated Press.

grey placeholderGetty Images A person holds a sign shaped like a Massachusetts license plate that reads FRAMEDGetty Images

Many Karen Read supporters believe she was framed for her former boyfriend’s murder

What is the case’s current status?

After nine weeks of testimony and other legal proceedings, Ms Read’s defence team and prosecutors began their closing statements on Tuesday.

On Friday, the jury – who had been deliberating since Tuesday – sent a note to the judge saying they could not reach a unanimous verdict.

In many cases, if jurors cannot reach an agreement, the judge asks them to return to the deliberation room and try again. This instruction is known as an Allen charge.

That is exactly what Norfolk County Superior Court Judge Beverly Cannone told the Massachusetts jury on Friday.

The 12-person jury – six men and six women – are now expected to return to their deliberations on Monday.

Who is “Turtleboy”?

Aidan Kearny, also known as “Turtleboy”, is an intriguing character to have come out of this trial.

He now faces charges for allegedly intimidating witnesses involved with the trial.

Mr Kearny runs the website “TB Daily News” where he writes under the name “Turtleboy”.

He has asserted that Ms Read is innocent and has followed the case closely.

His writing frequently questions the investigation into Mr O’Keefe’s death and he often publicly confronts witnesses about the case.

During the case, prosecutors shared several examples of witness intimidation with the jury.

grey placeholderGetty Images Aidan Kearney walks away from court with papers in his hands as a crowd follows himGetty Images

Aidan “Turtleboy” Kearney, who covers the case for a local website, believes Karen Read is innocent

Mr Kearny was charged with witness intimidation in October 2023 and later pleaded not guilty.

“They will never shut me up, they will never, ever, ever stop me from reporting the truth about what happened to John O’Keefe,” Mr Kearney told reporters after his 2023 arraignment. “Reporting the news is not harassment. Asking questions is not harassment.”

In December, he was indicted again. This time on 16 new charges that include witness intimidation and conspiracy to intimidate witnesses.

Prosecutors alleged Mr Kearny and Ms Read were in communication and she was sharing information from the case that was not yet public.

Judge Cannone, who is overseeing the case, ruled Mr Kearny would have to leave the courtroom when certain witnesses testified because of the witness intimidation charges brought against him.

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