Karen Read trial schedule this week, recap of last week – NBC Boston

Karen Read, the woman accused of leaving her Boston police officer boyfriend for dead in a Canton, Massachusetts, snowbank after a night of drinking, is due back in court Monday after three weekdays off.

There was just one day of proceedings in Norfolk Superior Court last week, with Memorial Day on Monday a holiday and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all scheduled as days off. This week, jurors will return for full days in court Monday and Wednesday, as well as a half-day Thursday; there won’t be any testimony Tuesday and Friday.

Prosecutors say Karen Read dropped John O’Keefe off at a house party hosted by a fellow officer in January 2022, struck him with her SUV and then drove away. Read has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, and her defense team argues that the homeowner’s relationship with local and state police tainted the investigation. They also say she was framed and that O’Keefe was beaten inside the home and left outside.

Jurors heard from a range of witnesses Tuesday, including more from ATF agent Brian Higgins, testimony from John O’Keefe’s niece and nephew, as well as a doctor who treated Read at the ER and a forensic toxicologist who weighed in on the alcohol in her system on Jan. 29.

On Tuesday, jurors heard from Nicholas Roberts, who analyzed blood test results from the hospital where Read was evaluated after O’Keefe’s body was discovered. He calculated that her blood alcohol content at 9 a.m., the time of the blood test, was between .078% and .083%, right around the legal limit for intoxication in Massachusetts. Based on a police report that suggested her last drink was at 12:45 a.m., her peak blood alcohol level would have been between .135% and .292%, he said.

Multiple witnesses have described Read frantically asking, “Did I hit him?” before O’Keefe was found or saying afterward, “I hit him.” Others have said the couple had a stormy relationship and O’Keefe was trying to end it.

O’Keefe had been raising his niece and nephew, and they told jurors Tuesday that they heard frequent arguments between him and Read. O’Keefe’s niece described the relationship as “good at the beginning but bad at the end,” though the nephew said they were never physically violent.

The defense, which has been allowed to present what is called third-party culprit evidence, argues that investigators focused on Read because she was a “convenient outsider” who saved them from having to consider other suspects. Those they have implicated include Brian Albert, who owned the home in Canton where O’Keefe died, and Brian Higgins, a federal agent who was there that night.

Higgins, a special agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified the prior week about exchanging flirtatious texts with Read in the weeks before O’Keefe’s death. On Tuesday he acknowledged extracting only those messages before throwing away his phone during the murder investigation.

Higgins said he replaced the phone because someone he was investigating for his job had gotten his number. He got a new phone and number on Sept. 29, 2022, a day before being served with a court order to preserve his phone, and then threw the old one away a few months later. Questioning Higgins on the stand, Read’s lawyer suggested the timing was suspicious.

“You knew when you were throwing that phone and the destroyed SIM card in the Dumpster, that from that day forward, no one would ever be able to access the content of what you and Brian Albert had discussed by text messages on your old phone,” attorney David Yannetti said.

Finally, the jury heard from two Town of Canton employees about their roles and interactions with Massachusetts State Police during the investigation.

Here’s a longer recap of what happened in court Tuesday.

Brian Higgins concludes his testimony Tuesday

Higgins is a friend of Brian Albert and was present at the party at Albert’s home on Fairview Road hours before O’Keefe was found dead outside, according to court filings and witness testimony. He had previously exchanged flirtatious text messages with Read, according to court filings from the prosecution.

He is one of three men that Read’s defense team has said had motive, opportunity and means to attack O’Keefe that night. Prosecutors have said the defense’s statements about Higgins lack evidence and make for a “fanciful” story.

Yannetti started by asking Higgins on Tuesday if he provided the complete exchanges of his texts with Read and O’Keefe. Higgins replied by saying there might have been additional text exchanges with O’Keefe that he did not provide.

Higgins also acknowledged that he did not provide any text messages with anyone else.

Yannetti asked Higgins if he received an order in September of 2022 telling him not to dispose of his phone records, and if he reset his phone anyway. Higgins said he did not reset his phone.

But Yannetti said in May of 2023, he met with investigators and told them he did a “factory reset” of his phone.

“I don’t recall that, no. I don’t recall making that statement,” Higgins said.

Shown records of the interview, Higgins again denies he ever said that, saying the record is inaccurate.

“My testimony is I didn’t make those statements,” he said.

“Did you either cut up the SIM card or rip it up?” Yannetti asked.

“Cut it up or broke it,” Higgins said, acknowledging that the purpose of doing that was to make sure no one else could use it. But he denied he cut up the SIM card to keep people from accessing his data.

He also confirmed that he told investigators, “I made sure that somebody couldn’t put it in their phone” and he put it and the phone in a trash bag.

Higgins said he then drove to a military base and put the destroyed SIM card and the phone into a dumpster on the base.

“Yes, I threw it away,” he said.

ATF special agent Brian Higgins, a key witness in the Karen Read murder trial, testified Tuesday morning about why he decided to destroy his cell phone.

Follow NBC10 Boston on…

Higgins said he didn’t transfer anything from the phone, including any photos, videos or previous text messages.

He also confirmed that he had texts with Kevin, Nicole and Brian Albert on the phone that he discarded.

“You knew… that from that day forward, no one would ever be able to access the content of what you and Brian Albert had discussed by text messages on your old phone, correct?” Yannetti asked.

“Anybody,” Higgins replied.

On redirect, Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally asked Higgins again about the kiss he shared with Read, and his series of text messages with the defendant. He said he never talked about any of that with anyone, both because he is a private person and he was a bit embarrassed about his actions.

“Just everything was so out of left field, I just found it hard to believe,” he said about his brief flirtation with Read.

Lally also asked Higgins if he had heard that a defense request to turn over his phone had been denied. He said he did learn that and disposed of his phone about two months after that.

“Because it was beaten and broken up and I already had a new phone,” he said. “Only explanation is I threw it away. That’s it.”

Higgins said he had also recently received a call from the subject of an investigation he was conducting who had found his phone number online. But he said that was not the main reason he got rid of the phone.

He said he had no reason to preserve any information from his phone because he is divorced and has no children.

Lally also asked Higgins again if he saw anything outside the Albert home on the night of Jan. 28-29, 2022, and he said he hadn’t.

“If I had saw John O’Keefe on the side of the road, I would have done something to make a difference,” Higgins said.

Higgins concluded his testimony around 9:50 a.m. Tuesday, at which point Judge Beverly Cannone ordered a 10-minute recess.

John O’Keefe’s niece and nephew take the stand

After Higgins, the next witnesses on Tuesday were the niece and nephew of O’Keefe, who lived with him in Canton after both of their parents died.

Their testimony was not live streamed, as both the prosecution and defense have agreed not to have any video or audio broadcast of their testimony. Their testimony lasted about two hours, concluding shortly before noon.

NBC10 Boston’s Sue O’Connell, who was in the courtroom but was not allowed to share details until afterward, said the niece and nephew testified about the relationship between their uncle and Read, saying arguing between them increased in January. They said the fights were loud, but never happened in public.

They said Read often took care of them, and they had good times together, and also some bad times when O’Keefe and Read fought.

The niece also detailed the events of the morning O’Keefe died, saying she heard Read say, “Maybe I hit him. Could I have hit him?”

The children also said Read never called or wrote them after that day.

Yannetti only had a couple of questions on cross-examination, asking if Read or O’Keefe ever raised a hand in anger at each other. Both children testified no.

O’Keefe’s niece was also asked if she ever told anyone about Read’s comments that she might have hit O’Keefe. The niece said she did not.

ER doctor who treated John O’Keefe testifies

After O’Keefe’s niece and nephew concluded their testimony, Dr. Justin Rice, an emergency medicine physician at South Shore Health took the stand. He previously worked at Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton for over a decade.

Rice treated O’Keefe when he was brought to Good Samaritan Hospital on Jan. 29, 2022, after he was found in the snow outside of the Albert home on Fairview Road.

“He was unresponsive and intubated, as in, with a breathing tube into his airway via his mouth,” Rice said, describing O’Keefe’s condition when he arrived at the hospital’s emergency room. “He would have had CPR in progress, and also someone would have been ventilating his lungs…”

Rice said O’Keefe arrived in cardiac arrest, meaning his heart was not pumping blood and had no electrical activity of its own. He said his initial body temperature was low, about 80 degrees, which is consistent with hypothermia.

He said O’Keefe’s time of death was 7:50 a.m.

Rice also said O’Keefe had abrasions or scratches on his right forearm.

The emergency room doctor said he also treated Read later that same morning.

She arrived at the hospital around 7:51 a.m. for a Section 12, an involuntary hospitalization for a mental health concern.

On cross-examination from defense attorney Elizabeth Little, Rice said he didn’t recall treating Read or ordering her bloodwork.

He was asked if a firefighter ever approached him on Jan. 29, 2022, with information indicating that O’Keefe had been struck by a motor vehicle. Rice said he did not recall anyone telling him directly that the victim had been involved in a car accident.

“I think that on my note it says per EMS report, so one of the medics, as in one of the folks on the ambulance that brought Mr. O’Keefe in, as I recall it said something to the effect of ‘Per EMS report, the patient may have been struck by a vehicle.'”

Little then showed Rice the report, which did not include any reference to the fact that O’Keefe might have been struck by a motor vehicle.

“In fact, there is no mention of a vehicle whatsoever, correct?” Little asked.

“That’s correct,” Rice replied.

Asked if he observed O’Keefe’s injuries when he arrived at the hospital, Rice said he did observe scratches and abrasions on his right arm and a laceration above his eyelid. He had no injuries to his shoulders, chest, torso, back, ribs, hips, knees, shins, ankles or feet.

“From the neck down he did not have a single broken bone, right? You certainly didn’t notate in your report that he had any broken bones, correct?” Little asked

“No, I did not,” Rice replied.

But Rice said his focus at the time was in trying to revive O’Keefe, and not on every single detail of his injuries.

Court adjourned for lunch around 12:50 p.m. and is scheduled to resume at 1:30 p.m. Testimony is expected to continue until 4:30 p.m.

Second doctor takes the stand after lunch break

Dr. Garrey Faller, the chief pathologist and laboratory medical director at Good Samaritan Hospital, was the first witness to take the stand after the lunch break.

Lally asked several questions about blood alcohol testing, and the typical protocols that are in place.

The defense then questioned Faller on the methodology used in hospitals to test for alcohol, pointing out that it is different than the testing used in forensic labs. In the hospital, the blood is separated and the serum portion tested, while forensic labs test whole blood.

The defense also asked if there were things that could affect the accuracy of hospital testing. Faller said that was possible, but the machines account for those factors.

“Our machine would flag that and we would have some information that a result may not be valid, and sometimes we will report a result with a disclaimer or sometimes if those levels are so high we won’t report them at all. But in this case there were no flags,” Faller said.

Forensic scientist testifies about blood alcohol testing

The next witness was Nicholas Roberts, who worked at the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab in the toxicology unit at the time of the investigation. The prosecution began by asking him about his work on Read’s case, including converting the lab results from the hospital, which was provided as a serum test, into a blood alcohol content reading as understood in law enforcement.

Roberts explained how he goes about calculations to determine blood alcohol content, which after a process called retrograde extrapolation, a method that takes into account factors like the time of the last drink, the time of the incident and the time blood testing was done, is provided in a range to account for differences between individuals.

During cross-examination, the defense stressed the point that those calculations could be different if any piece of information, such as time of last drink, was not accurate. However in redirect, Lally had Roberts clarify that the difference would have to concern hours of time in between to have significant impact on the calculation.

Canton public works superintendent testifies

Next up was Michael Trotta, superintendent of the Canton Department of Public Works. Lally began a line of questioning about the Public Works schedule the night of Jan. 28, 2022, and overnight into Jan 29, 2022, when it began storming.

Trotta described how many Public Works trucks they would typically have on the road, and read from a report indicating what trucks were scheduled and at one time they were expected to report to work. He was also asked to describe what types of trucks would have been on the route that went by 34 Fairview.

During cross-examination, the defense asked Trotta about his interactions with Trooper Michael Proctor during the State Police Investigation.

Canton information systems manager discusses surveillance footage

The final witness of the day was Louis Jutras, the manager of information systems for the town of Canton. Jutras discussed surveillance footage he provided to State Police during the course of the investigation. He was initially contacted in February 2022. Investigators were concerned with two periods of time – from 12 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Jan. 29, and from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. on the same day.

He explained how they aimed to have the raw footage stored for about 30 days per location, though more active locations may fill up sooner and less active ones may have a slightly longer timeframe.

Jutras testified that he provided the video to investigators in the timeframe requested, but did not sit and watch it in its entirety.

“I watched it from the timeframe to see that we had information and that it was physically available,” he told the court.

During cross-examination he explained that when he received a follow up request from State Police to provide the footage to the defense later in the investigation, the raw footage was no longer available in the system.

Jutras also testified that the GPS tracking available in the town’s Public Works trucks was not working properly during the snowstorm on the night in question. This was not unusual, according to Jutras, who said sometimes the connection needs to be reestablished because of changes on the server.