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Mistrial Declared in Karen Read Case After Jury Deadlock

The high-profile murder trial of Karen Read, accused of killing her Boston police officer boyfriend John O’Keefe, ended in a mistrial after the jury declared they could not reach a unanimous verdict. The jury’s impasse comes after five days of intense deliberations, prompting Judge Beverly Cannone to declare the mistrial on Monday. The case, involving allegations of a police cover-up and intense media scrutiny, will now move towards a status conference scheduled for July 22, 2024.

Karen Read, a former adjunct professor at Bentley College, was charged with second-degree murder, motor vehicle manslaughter while driving under the influence, and leaving the scene of a collision causing injury or death. If convicted, she faces life in prison. The charges stem from the January 2022 incident where John O’Keefe was found dead in the snow outside a fellow officer’s home in Canton, Massachusetts. Prosecutors alleged that Read hit O’Keefe with her car while dropping him off at a party and left him to die in the snowstorm.

On the fifth day of deliberations, the jury sent a note to Judge Cannone stating they were at an impasse. Despite a “dynamite charge” from the judge, urging them to reconsider their positions and strive for consensus, the jury remained deeply divided. The note highlighted that the jurors’ differences were rooted in deeply held convictions rather than a lack of understanding or effort, making further deliberations futile.

The trial, which lasted two months, presented over 600 pieces of evidence and included testimony from more than 70 witnesses. It captivated public attention with allegations of a police cover-up, destroyed evidence, and improper conduct by investigators. The defense argued that O’Keefe was killed inside the home of fellow officer Brian Albert and then dragged outside, framing Read as a convenient outsider. Prosecutors, however, maintained that Read, under the influence, had struck O’Keefe with her SUV and left him to die.

Defense attorney Alan Jackson emphasized the compromised nature of the investigation, highlighting shoddy police work and conflicts of interest among investigators and witnesses. The lead investigator, State Trooper Michael Proctor, admitted to making crude statements about Read in personal texts and acknowledged using unprofessional methods, such as collecting blood evidence with red plastic cups and using a leaf blower to clear snow.

The case has sparked significant public interest and activism, with groups of Read’s supporters, often dressed in pink, protesting daily outside the courthouse. A smaller contingent advocating for Read’s conviction also made their presence known. After the mistrial was declared, Read’s supporters expressed mixed feelings, acknowledging the relief of avoiding a guilty verdict but preparing for the possibility of a retrial.

Prosecutors have stated their intention to retry the case, aiming to seek justice for John O’Keefe. The defense remains steadfast, asserting Read’s innocence and criticizing the prosecution’s approach. The next steps in this legal saga will unfold at the status conference on July 22, where further decisions regarding a potential retrial will be discussed.

Aidan Kearney, a blogger known as “Turtleboy,” has been a vocal supporter of Read, dedicating extensive coverage to the trial and facing his own legal challenges related to his activism. Kearney expressed disappointment over the mistrial but remains committed to supporting Read through potential future trials.

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