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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 in the Karen Read murder trial following eight weeks of testimony.

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

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

Medical examiner Dr. Irini Scordi Bello, continuing her testimony from Thursday, was the prosecution’s last witness. She testified that a fall could have caused the injuries to O’Keefe’s skull. That fall could be either to the concrete in the basement of 34 Fairview Road, as the defense contends, or the frozen ground of the front yard, as the prosecution maintains.

Scordi-Bello said she concluded from her autopsy of O’Keefe that his cause of death was 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.

“I did not have enough information to determine the manner,” she said, though she said of her options it was between homicide or accident.

Paul O’Keefe sat next to the television screen where gruesome autopsy photos of his older brother were shown to the jury. He maintained a neutral expression as graphic images of his brother were shown, though he shifted and was clearly uncomfortable.

“Today was a good day,” Read told reporters outside the courthouse following the first day of her team’s presentation. “The medical examiner said John’s injuries were not classic pedestrian injuries, which was good to hear an expert say, and their expert no less.”

Her team’s medical expert, Dr. Frank Sheridan, she said, “will be here next week. Her attorneys Alan Jackson and David Yannetti said they estimate they will rest their case Monday, with closing arguments on Tuesday.

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.”

Lally contends those injuries, which were almost entirely to his head, came from Read striking O’Keefe 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 also said that the injuries “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.

Brian Loughran, a Canton snowplow operator, said he saw a Ford Edge parked outside 34 Fairview Road when he was doing his second pass of the road at around 3:15 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. This suggests someone else could have killed O’Keefe.

He said the “Frankentruck” he drove on the route, so named because it’s got an assortment of attachments that weren’t made for the model, gave him clear visibility from a high-seated position and that the plow lights provide an “enormous amount” of light.

He also says he watches the sides of the road for any pedestrians, obstacles or, “God forbid, any animals.” He said at no time did he see a shape near the yard’s flagpole where O’Keefe’s body would later be found in the blizzard snow.

The chief of the State Police detective unit stationed at the Norfolk DA’s office, Lt. Brian Tully, testified last week that investigators didn’t take Loughran’s lead seriously because of issues with the “reliability” of his account.

In cross, prosecutor Lally seized on this, repeatedly questioning Loughran’s memory of the time he saw that. He also brought up a time that Loughran struck a basketball pole on Tippycart Road in Canton, and used Loughran’s unsure memory of that to cast doubt on his memory in general

Dr. Marie Russell testified that she believes the wounds to O’Keefe’s right arm were from a dog attack. The “recently retired” emergency room doctor, who last performed an autopsy in 1995, has authored multiple peer-reviewed articles on the subject, saying that “I have a strong interest in wounds in general, and I have a strong interest in dog bites in particular,” she said, adding she could have treated 500-1,000 people with such injuries.

“I believe that these injuries were sustained by an animal. Perhaps a large dog,” she said, “based on the pattern of the injuries.”

The defense brought in their own digital forensics expert, Richard Green, who said that his analysis concludes that Jennifer McCabe made a Google search from her phone for “hos long to die in cold” “at or before 2:27 a.m.” on Jan. 29, 2022 — hours before she would discover O’Keefe’s body on that front lawn with Read at around 6 a.m.

Green owns and operates the company United States Forensics. He said he knows of both Jessica Hyde and Ian Whiffin, two of the prosecution’s digital forensics experts, has read their reports and understands that they came to a different conclusion.

Both Hyde and Whiffin testified that the search was actually made a little after 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 29, which is when McCabe testified she searched it at Read’s behest as they stood around O’Keefe’s body.


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