A woman accused of killing her Boston police officer boyfriend was framed, her attorneys say

BOSTON (AP) — A highly anticipated trial began in Massachusetts last week involving a woman accused of striking her Boston police officer boyfriend with her SUV and leaving him for dead in a snowbank.

John O’Keefe died in the Boston suburb of Canton on Jan. 29, 2022.

The case has garnered national attention because the defense alleges that state and local law enforcement officials framed Karen Read and allowed the real killer to go free.

A look at the facts and legal arguments:


For the past few days, Read's defense team has focused heavily on connections between police and the family that owned the home in the Boston suburb of Canton where O'Keefe's body was found. They are trying to argue that these relationships biased the investigation and blinded state and local law enforcement officials to the possibility that someone else killed the 46-year-old O'Keefe.

Defense attorneys first went after Katie McLaughlin, a firefighter who responded to the scene and who had been friends with family member Caitlin Albert. The house was owned at the time by Albert's father, Boston Police Officer Brian Albert.

McLaughlin confirmed on Friday that she and Caitlin Albert went to high school together, were friends on social media and were photographed together at a local beach about a decade ago. But she insisted they were only acquaintances and that she didn’t know it was Albert’s home when she responded to the call. She also said she hadn’t talked to Albert for a few years.

Read's defense attorney Alan Jackson repeatedly tried to show that the pair were closer than McLaughlin wanted to admit, pointing out other beach photos in which the two appeared together.

By Monday, he and other defense attorneys were doubling down on that connection.

Before the jury arrived, the attorneys told Judge Beverly Cannone that they had received many more photos over the weekend of McLaughlin and Caitlin Albert together, including at a baby shower. They also learned the two had been on the track team together in high school. Cannone said she would address the issue later.


Defense attorneys also questioned Canton Police Lt. Paul Gallagher, the first witness up Monday, asking him why he didn't search the family home for any physical evidence. They noted that pieces of a broken cocktail glass had been found outside the house, and indicated that similar pieces might have been found inside the house with a search.

Did police not conduct a search "because that house belonged to a Boston police officer?” Jackson asked Gallagher.

Gallagher responded that a search would have required probable cause, which he said police didn't have.

Jackson then asked Gallagher if the reason that Canton Police Chief Kenneth Berkowitz recused himself from the investigation "was because of the relationship between the Albert family and the Canton police department?”

Gallagher said no, that it was because a brother of Brian Albert works in the Canton police's investigative unit.

On Tuesday, the defense focused on the relationship that Canton Police Lt. Michael Lank had with Brian Albert's brother Christopher Albert, a high school classmate.

Lank said he had been drinking off duty one night in 2002 when Christopher Albert approached him for help, saying he had been in a scuffle earlier, and that "some threats had been made to him and his family.”

Defense attorneys suggested Lank helped Albert because of their long friendship but he denied it.

“It was me coming to the aid of a citizen who was terrified and scared for him and his family on that night who happened to be Chris Albert," he told the court.


Read and O'Keefe had been to two bars the night of the officer's death, and were then headed to a party in nearby Canton, police said. Read said she did not feel well and decided not to attend, they said. Once at the home, O’Keefe got out of Read’s vehicle, and while she made a three-point turn, she struck him and then drove away, according to prosecutors.

Read later became frantic when she couldn’t reach O’Keefe, returned to the party, and along with two friends found his body covered in snow, the prosecutors said.

So far, they are leaning into Read's comments at the scene, including testimony from several first responders who recalled Read telling them loudly and repeatedly that she “hit him,” though she never said it was with her SUV. They also have put witnesses on the stand who have testified that the couple had a strained relationship.

But on Wednesday, one witness, who was at a bar with the couple the night that O'Keefe died, said he never saw any body language that would suggest they were fighting or arguing that night.

“In fact, I noticed the opposite,” Nicholas Kolokithas, a Canton resident and attorney, told the court. “They were affectionate toward each other, loving toward each other to the point that my wife even made a comment, ‘Why are you not like that with me?’"