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Prosecution rests its case in Karen Read murder trial

Flint McColgan, Boston Herald on

Published in News & Features

BOSTON — The prosecution rested its case Friday morning in the Karen Read murder trial following eight weeks of testimony.

The last witness was medical examiner Dr. Irini Scordi Bello, continuing her testimony from Thursday, whose final answer was that a fall could have caused all the injuries seen to John O’Keefe’s skull.

Read, 44, of Mansfield, faces charges of second-degree murder, motor vehicle manslaughter and leaving the scene of a collision causing the death of O’Keefe, who was her boyfriend and a 16-year Boston Police officer when he died at age 46 in the early morning hours of Jan. 29, 2022.

The morning was rough for the O’Keefe family members who remained in court for an examination of O’Keefe’s autopsy photos. His brother Paul O’Keefe sat right next to the television screen where exhibits were published to the jury and he maintained a neutral expression as graphic images of his brother were shown, though he shifted and was clearly uncomfortable.

Scordi-Bello conducted O’Keefe’s autopsy, she testified, with an aim to determine the cause and manner of death. The cause of death was clear: blunt-force injuries to the skull and hypothermia. The manner required context, which she said she didn’t have enough of by her 90-day deadline to file her report.

“By the time I was ready to finalize the case,” she said, “… I did not have enough information to determine the manner.”

Scordi-Bello was unwilling to commit to speculation under questioning from either side of the case as to the cause of the injuries she documented. Most of her answers were variations of “It’s possible” or “It could be.” She was willing to say whether injuries could be caused by the various offerings, but would not say the likelihood.

For prosecutor Adam Lally, those injuries came from Read striking O’Keefe at about 24 mph with the passenger-side rear of her vehicle. Scordi-Bello said that the injuries seen to O’Keefe “could be” consistent with such a strike.


But under cross-examination by defense attorney Elizabeth Little, Scordi-Bello said that while the injuries could be caused by such a strike, “They are not the classic pedestrian injuries we see, no.”

In particular, Scordi-Bello elaborated, she did not see injuries to O’Keefe’s legs which she typically sees in pedestrian strikes, since the legs are often struck by the bumper area of a vehicle. She did say, however, that Read’s Lexus is a taller car than average.

Scordi-Bello agreed “it’s possible” the injuries to O’Keefe’s head and face could come from, as Little asked each one, a “baseball bat,” a “dumbbell,” and a fall to concrete following a punch.

She also agreed with Lally that the same injury could come from striking frozen ground after a vehicle strike.

“The Commonwealth rests, your honor,” Lally said a little after 10 a.m.

Cannone broke court for a recess and called for a sidebar ahead of the defense presentation.


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