Judge denies Karen Read’s request to question witnesses about cellphones

Posted at 8:07 AM, May 24, 2023 and last updated 9:49 PM, May 24, 2023


BOSTON (Court TV) – A Massachusetts judge on Wednesday heard arguments and reserved ruling on Karen Read’s request for cell phones and records that her lawyers say will help exonerate her in her boyfriend’s death.

Karen Read appears in court

Karen Read appears in court Oct. 4, 2022 for a hearing. (Court TV)

Read is charged with second-degree murder in Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe’s January 2022 death. Norfolk County prosecutors claim Read ran over O’Keefe with her car in a drunken rage and left him for dead in a snowstorm. Read says she did nothing of the sort and that others are to blame for O’Keefe’s death.

A hearing on Read’s request for cell phones and related records had previously been scheduled for Thursday. Read’s lawyers wanted to call a data extraction expert and the owners of two cell phones to assist them in making the case for obtaining the evidence.

WATCH: Karen Read Speaks Following Hearing

One of the people whose cell phone records the defense wanted is Boston Police Officer Brian Albert, the owner of the Canton home where O’Keefe’s bruised, frozen body was found on the lawn the morning of January 29, 2022. The other person is Albert’s sister-in-law, Jennifer McCabe, who joined Albert in his home along with others after the bars closed in the Boston suburb and Albert invited people over, including O’Keefe.

McCabe and Albert told police that O’Keefe never made it into Albert’s house that night. Albert said it was only after Read returned to the house around 6 a.m. looking for O’Keefe that his body was found in the snow.

Read’s lawyers announced in April that they had uncovered evidence suggesting McCabe and Albert were lying about O’Keefe’s whereabouts. When contacted by Court TV, Albert’s lawyer declined to comment on Read’s allegations.

Read’s lawyers said their expert examined McCabe’s phone and found the following potentially incriminating pieces of evidence:

  • Google searches for how long it takes to die in the cold were performed around 2:27 a.m., long before Read found O’Keefe’s body and called 911.
  • 18 deleted call entries on January 29, including one to her brother-in-law at 6:23 a.m.
  • Seven phone calls between Albert and McCabe between 6:23 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. on January 29.
  • A deleted screenshot of Albert’s contact information was taken at 6:08 a.m.

The findings led Read’s lawyers to file a motion requesting Albert’s and McCabe’s cell phones and associated cloud-based accounts so their expert could examine them. The defense also asked for an evidentiary hearing where they could lay out their findings and question Albert and McCabe.

Photo of Officer John O'Keefe in uniform

This undated photograph provided by the Boston Police Department shows officer John O’Keefe, 46, of Canton, Mass. O’Keefe died at an area hospital after being found lying in snow unresponsive outside his home on Saturday Jan. 30, 2022. Karen Read, 41, of Mansfield, Mass., was charged with manslaughter on Wednesday Feb. 2, 2022 after allegedly striking O’Keefe, her boyfriend, with her car. Read pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and other charges at her arraignment Wednesday. (Boston Police Department)

Read’s lawyers wanted to call McCabe and Albert as witnesses in a hearing previously scheduled on Thursday to “clarify” the contact they had on January 29 and explain why McCabe felt compelled to delete evidence of that contact. Lawyers for McCabe and Albert objected to them testifying and filed motions to quash their subpoenas.

Norfolk Superior Court Judge Beverly Cannone on Wednesday quashed the defense’s subpoenas for Albert and McCabe and denied the request for the expanded hearing. Instead, attorneys for both sides argued their position on Wednesday without calling witnesses or presenting evidence.

Norfolk County prosecutors dispute the defense’s findings, saying law enforcement’s investigation did not reveal the deletions or the Google searches. Prosecutors say injuries to O’Keefe’s body and damage to the taillight on Read’s car are consistent with her backing her SUV into him, then leaving him to die.

Cannone is expected to rule on the defense’s request for access to the cell phones in the coming weeks. Read is due back in court in July.