Prosecutors reveal Karen Read’s ‘romantic entanglement’ in new filing

Posted at 3:30 PM, February 23, 2024 and last updated 10:35 AM, February 27, 2024

DEDHAM, Mass. (Court TV) — Prosecutors in Karen Read‘s murder case are firing back at her attorneys’ attempts to have her charges dismissed, directly challenging the defense’s version of events and detailing issues in Read’s relationship with the victim in new court filings.

Karen Read and David Yannetti appear in court

Karen Read, accused in the death of police officer John O’Keefe, appears in court Friday, Jan. 15. 2024, next to her attorney David Yannetti. (Court TV)

Read is charged with second-degree murder in the death of her boyfriend, Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe, who was found dead in the snow outside of a friend’s home after a night of drinking in Jan. 2022. While investigators have accused Read of hitting O’Keefe with her car and then leaving him to die in the snow, her defense team has accused the police of conducting a sloppy investigation and has alleged a cover-up of a fight inside the house that led to O’Keefe’s death.

Before heading to the home where O’Keefe’s body was later found, the couple had been out with a larger group of friends at two bars. While witnesses who saw them interacting that night said the couple had not been fighting, the victim’s niece and nephew, who lived with him, detailed a rocky relationship at home.

WATCH: Exclusive: Security Video Released in Karen Read Case

Read and O’Keefe had been dating for approximately two years before his death, but in the weeks before the incident, the couple was arguing more frequently.

“The forensic extraction of the call logs, voicemails and text messages between the victim and the defendant, including the dates of January 28-29, detailed strains within their relationship, the victim’s desire to end their relationship and the defendant’s description of their relationship … as ‘toxic.’”

O’Keefe’s nephew and niece, ages 10 and 14, who had lived with him for eight years, told police that they had overheard him ask Read to leave his home on multiple occasions, but she refused to comply.

Prosecutors revealed in the new filing that a man, identified as Brian Higgins, who police said was friends with the couple and was present at both the bars where they had been drinking and inside the home where O’Keefe was found dead, was involved in a “romantic entanglement” with Read. Two weeks before O’Keefe’s death, Higgins went to the victim’s home to watch a football game. Read walked him out after the game and allegedly kissed him.

>>Read the prosecution’s filing

Texts between Higgins and Read after that date acknowledge the kiss and were described by prosecutors as “romantic in nature,” though he declined an invitation to visit Read at her home.

“The defendant complains that the Commonwealth attempted to besmirch the defendant in some manner and fabricate problems within her relationship with the victim as a motive for murder by introducing testimony about an incident four weeks prior in Aruba. Yet, the defendant avoids mention or challenge to the venomous voicemails she left on the victim’s cellphone as well as the evidence of other issues in their relationship, including the defendant’s recent romantic entanglement with Mr. Higgins, in the weeks prior to Mr. O’Keefe’s death.”

Prosecutors said that in Aruba, Read accused O’Keefe of cheating on her.

In the filing, prosecutors also specified that a Google search performed by one of the people who had been inside the home, relating to “how long to die in the cold,” was searched at Read’s request. Jennifer McCabe, one of the state’s star witnesses, told officers that she searched the phrase after Read yelled at her twice to Google, “‘How long to do you have to be left outside to die from hypothermia?’, or something to that effect.”

Read is scheduled to appear in court Monday, Feb. 26 for a motions hearing.