Karen Read trial live updates: Read may have had BAC more than three times limit (2024)

Court adjourns until next week — 4:02 p.m.

Testimony in the trial of Karen Read, a Mansfield woman charged in the death of her Boston police officer boyfriend, John O’Keefe, continued Tuesday — the only day of testimony this week.

Read, 44, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of O’Keefe, who was found cold to the touch and unresponsive on Jan. 29, 2022, outside of a home in Canton.

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The final witness of the day Tuesday was Louis Jutras, information systems manager for the town of Canton. Jutras explained that the town has a security camera system across its properties that is motion-activated and takes video, but not audio, when activated. Depending on the amount of activity of the location, footage is typically kept for a minimum of 30 days, he said.

Jutras said that in early February, he was contacted by Massachusetts State Police who asked for footage from the Canton Public Library of the intersection of Washington and Sherman Streets between 12 and 1 a.m. and between 5 and 6 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2022. He said only two cameras have a view of the specified area, so he was able to export and hand over the footage.

Jutras said before he provided the footage, he did not make any edits but watched the beginning and end of the video to ensure the time frame was correct.

On cross-examination, defense attorney David Yanetti asked if Jutras knew what police had done with the video after he gave it to them, which he did not. Jutras said in April 2023, police reached out again to ask him to provide the same footage to the defense team, but because of the time that elapsed in between, he no longer had access to the video.

The court adjourned for the day just after 4 p.m. The trial will not resume until 9 a.m. Monday, June 3.

Canton DPW director explains plowing procedure — 3:39 p.m.

Canton Superintendent of Public Works Michael Trotta, the next witness to be questioned, said he received a call from Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor in early February 2022 and Proctor asked about the town’s procedure for plowing roads during a snowstorm and what plow drivers were on duty during the blizzard on Jan. 28 and 29.

Trotta said the route in the Cedarcrest neighborhood, which included Fairview Road, was being plowed by one medium-sized, town-owned truck and a smaller, one-ton dump truck operated by a private contractor. He said Brian Loughlin was the driver of the truck that plowed Fairview Road.

During cross-examination, defense attorney David Yannetti asked if Proctor had specifically asked who had plowed Fairview Road and if Trotta had given him Loughlin’s name or recommended he check with the Public Works department’s operations manager. Trotta said he believed he had given Proctor Loughlin’s name and directed him to the operations manager but couldn’t be sure.

Read could have had BAC more than three times legal limit — 3:13 p.m.

The next witness to take the stand was Nicholas Roberts, a former employee at the state toxicology lab.

Roberts explained that serum testing performed in hospitals separates the serum, or the liquid part of the blood, to test for alcohol and usually results in a slightly higher result than a “whole blood” test because alcohol “likes to stay in the liquid portion more than throughout the whole blood.”

Roberts said at the toxicology lab, they are able to perform a mathematical conversion on serum test results to estimate what the level of alcohol would be in a whole blood test and provide a range of levels to account for differences between individuals that could affect the result.

When staff at Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton drew Read’s blood for testing at 9:08 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2022, hospital staff measured 93 milliliters for deciliter of alcohol through a serum test.

Roberts said this level works out to a low of 0.078, a high of 0.083 and an average of 0.081 blood alcohol concentration.

Roberts also explained that it is possible to perform a “retrograde extrapolation,” or a calculation to estimate what a person’s BAC would have been at a time before their blood was drawn and tested. He said at 12:45 a.m. Jan. 29, when they estimated Read had her last drink, her BAC would have been between 0.135 and 0.292.

In Massachusetts, the legal BAC limit to be able to drive is 0.08.

Defense attorney Elizabeth Little questioned the wide range of possible BAC levels, pointing out that the unknowns in the case, most importantly when Read had her last drink of the night, meant the answer was uncertain. In addition, she said, usually the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab performs multiple tests to confirm the accuracy of their test results.

“In this case, obviously, you didn’t conduct any of the testing. You’re just assuming the accuracy of a single test,” she said.

Roberts agreed but said throughout his testimony that small variations in the time of the last drink, even of up to 30 minutes, would not significantly impact the result.

“That’s why we give a range,” he said. “You could be on the outskirts of either side.”

Before concluding Roberts’ testimony, Little asked him if the 12:45 a.m. estimate came from Read herself, and he said the time came from a police report.

Pathologist explains blood alcohol testing performed on Read — 2:33 p.m.

When court resumed after breaking for lunch, Good Samaritan Medical Center Chief Pathologist Gary Faller took the witness stand. Faller oversees testing at the hospital, where O’Keefe and Read were both brought after O’Keefe’s body was discovered on Jan. 29, 2022.

Faller said it is not standard but not abnormal for a patient’s blood to be drawn and tested for drugs or alcohol when they are brought in due to mental health concerns under the state’s Section 12 law, like Read was that day.

He explained the process for testing alcohol at the hospital is called a “serum test” and tests only the liquid part of the blood to determine alcohol levels, as medical professionals are focused on what they need to know to treat a patient and not legal alcohol levels.

Read’s blood was drawn at 9:08 a.m. on Jan. 29 and was found to contain 93 milligrams per deciliter of alcohol. Faller did not say what level this amount would work out to in a “whole blood” test, which could provide the typical blood alcohol concentration measurement used in legal settings.

Defense attorney Elizabeth Little asked Faller about ways this test may return an inaccurate result, which he said was possible in some cases, such as if the patient had elevated lipid levels. However, he said, the machine used by the hospital will flag samples that may return an inaccurate result or even not report a result at all, and this did not happen with Read’s blood sample.

“Last I looked ... of the I think 5,000 hospitals testing for alcohol, over 80% of them are using our methodology,” Faller said. “I can’t imagine why if there were any major issues with alcohol testing in that methodology, it would be that high.”

O’Keefe’s body temperature was 80.1 degrees when he arrived at the hospital — 12:53 p.m.

Dr. Justin Rice, an emergency medicine physician who was practicing at Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton at the time of John O’Keefe’s death, took the witness stand when court resumed after testimony from O’Keefe’s minor niece and nephew.

Rice was on duty when O’Keefe was brought to the hospital after being discovered on the lawn outside of 34 Fairview Road on Jan. 29, 2022. He said when O’Keefe arrived in the ambulance at 6:47 a.m. medical personnel were performing CPR and he had been fitted with a breathing tube.

According to Rice, O’Keefe’s body temperature was 80.1 degrees, indicating hypothermia. Medical staff attempted to warm him using a “bear hugger,” a blanket that pumps warm air underneath it, as well as warmed intravenous fluids, but “there was not a significant warming of his core temperature.”

O’Keefe was also in cardiac arrest and asystole when he arrived at the hospital, meaning his heart was not pumping blood and had no detectable electrical activity. He had a cut about 7 millimeters long and swelling on his right eyebrow and scratches on his right forearm.

Rice said O’Keefe was presenting at a three on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which measures the responsiveness of a patient, the lowest possible score. He was pronounced dead at 7:50 a.m.

Rice was also the attending physician that morning when Read was brought to the hospital at 7:51 a.m. for mental health concerns after her mother requested she be involuntarily detained under the state’s Section 12 rule. He said blood was drawn when she arrived and alcohol was detected in her system at 93 milligrams per deciliter.

Defense attorney Elizabeth Little began cross-examination by asking Rice if he recalled treating Read, which he disagreed with, saying that he oversaw her care but did not personally treat her. Little asked if he personally drew and packaged her blood or sent it for lab work, which he said he did not.

Little then asked if any first responders had told Rice they believed O’Keefe had been struck by a car, which he said they did not. She also pointed out that Rice had not reported any other injuries that O’Keefe had sustained, such as broken bones, which he confirmed.

Before Rice was allowed to step down from the witness stand, prosecutor Adam Lally asked if there was a reason those injuries would not be included in the medical report. Rice explained that the focus of emergency medicine is on resuscitation, not things like broken bones, which in O’Keefe’s case, would not have been pertinent to the treatment of his hypothermia.

“The mind can only focus on so much,” Rice said. “In cases like this, because the attention is on resuscitation of someone’s heartbeat, their life, there’s less focus on injuries or observations that don’t coincide with the resuscitation effort or are not pertinent to the resuscitation effort.”

Rice left the stand at 12:50 p.m., and the court went into recess for lunch. Testimony is expected to resume at 1:30 p.m.

Testimony closed for juvenile witnesses — 10:32 a.m.

There was no transmission of video and audio from the courtroom starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday as O’Keefe’s niece and nephew, both minors, were called as witnesses. O’Keefe was caring for his niece and nephew after their parents died.

A court order released May 7 instructed members of the media not to film, photograph, transmit or audio record testimony by the minor witnesses or any exhibits containing prior interviews with them, and members of the media were not allowed to use any electronic devices in the courtroom during their testimony Tuesday. The media has also been instructed not to disclose the names of the children, their town of residence or the schools they attend.

Lally told jurors during opening statements about the Aruba trip when a 20-minute screaming match took place between Read and O’Keefe in front of his nephew and niece.

In addition, Read told Brian Higgins in texts that she and O’Keefe had had arguments over the children’s care.

“It’s just a very very complicated dynamic with the four of us. He isn’t cut out for what he’s doing and the kids present constant issues ... his heart isn’t in it,” Read wrote Higgins, according to text logs he read in court on Friday. “I try very hard, but they are very spoiled, and they’re not my family. My parents keep telling me I’d feel different if they were mine or my own sister’s.”

Brian Higgins confirms destruction of cell phone — 10:09 a.m.

Defense attorney David Yannetti began Tuesday’s cross-examination of Brian Higgins where his colleague Alan Jackson left off on Friday by asking Higgins about the destruction of his cell phone in October 2022 (Jackson was not present in court Tuesday).

Through his answers to a series of yes-or-no questions from Yannetti, Higgins confirmed that he received a protection order in September of that year instructing him not to delete anything from his cell phone or destroy his phone and never received anything in writing canceling that order. However, he said he made a decision to dispose of his phone, and threw it away in a dumpster on a military base on Cape Cod.

Higgins denied doing a factory reset of the phone before throwing it away but confirmed that he did not transfer any data, including photos, videos, and text messages, off of the phone before doing so. When Yannetti asked if he had taken out the SIM card and cut or broken it before throwing away the phone, saying it was what the witness had said in previous testimony, Higgins disagreed that that was what he said.

“What I said was, that might have been the extent of it if I was to have done that,” Higgins said, later elaborating that he didn’t remember destroying the SIM card but believed it may have been what he had done to prevent someone using the card in another phone.

He also added that he had learned the protection order was denied before throwing away the phone.

Higgins confirmed that he did not save any text messages other than those he provided to police, including those with Brian, Kevin and Nicole Albert.

“It was important to you that no one see those text exchanges that you had with those three members of the Albert family,” Yannetti said.

“No sir, that’s not true,” Higgins said.

After Yannetti finished his questioning, prosecutor Adam Lally asked more questions of Higgins, starting with the morning of Jan. 29, 2022, before O’Keefe’s body was found. He asked Higgins about testimony he gave Friday that when he left 34 Fairview Road earlier that morning in his Jeep outfitted with a plow, he drove a short distance before realizing the plow was down and grinding on the ground.

Higgins said he drove about a foot before lifting up the plow to drive away.

Lally also asked if Higgins had told anyone about the flirty text messages he had exchanged with Read that month, which he said he had not, in part because he tends to keep personal issues to himself.

“I was a little embarrassed. I wasn’t really proud of [the text messages]. They maybe didn’t show me in a good light with respect to that I was John’s friend,” he said.

Lally also asked Higgins about two short phone calls that showed in his call logs at 2:22 a.m. on Jan. 29 between him and Brian Albert, which Higgins has said he does not recall. Lally pointed out that on an iPhone, when a call begins, the phone begins counting seconds for the duration of the call whether or not the other person picks up, implying that Albert and Higgins may not have actually spoken during the one- and 22-second calls.

He also provided Higgins with a log of all door access records at the Canton police station on Jan. 29, when he visited after learning O’Keefe had been found on the lawn of 34 Fairview Road. The 116-page log included 18 instances where Higgins had swiped his access card, according to Lally.

The prosecutor then turned to the cell phone that Yannetti had asked about earlier. Higgins said he was motivated to get a new phone number when he received a call from the target of an investigation he was working on July 25, 2022, and the target told him his girlfriend had found Higgins’ number on the internet.

Higgins also said he had more of a personal attachment to his work phone than his personal phone, which was why he had not transferred any data off of the phone before throwing it away.

“I’m divorced. I don’t have kids. I didn’t have the type of memories that somebody would’ve had on their phone that they wanted to preserve,” he said. “They were more like the text messages with the defendant, where it would be a drink glass at a bar, food, something along those lines.”

He also said it was common for him to throw away trash or recycling on the military base while driving through to get gas or stop at the duty-free store and that he had not gone there specifically to throw away the phone but had thrown it away along with other trash. He explained that his other home in Barnstable did not have a trash pickup, so he had to throw all the garbage away on the base or at his home in West Roxbury.

Finally, Lally asked Higgins what he would have done if he had seen O’Keefe on the lawn on the morning of Jan. 29, 2022.

“I’ve spent my whole life between being a firefighter, working in the profession that I work now, being a tactical medic,” Higgins said. “If I had saw John O’Keefe on the side of the road, I would’ve done something to make a difference.”

Before Higgins was allowed to step down from the witness stand, Yannetti asked a few final questions, with Higgins confirming that even though he got the call from the target of an investigation in July 2022, he did not change his phone number until September.

Yannetti also asked if Higgins had told his boss about the text messages with Read, as Higgins had testified on Friday that he told his boss about the kiss. He said Tuesday that he knew he had told her about the kiss and did not remember telling her about the texts, but said it was possible he did tell her and would not deny it.

After a short recess, the court was expected to continue with questioning of a juvenile witness, which will not be livestreamed to protect their privacy.

Karen Read trial recap — 7:30 a.m.

Norfolk County prosecutors say Read struck O’Keefe with her SUV while driving intoxicated. Read’s attorney, David Yannetti, said during the trial’s opening statements that her car never struck O’Keefe and that others are to blame for his death.

The trial is taking place in Dedham’s Norfolk County Superior Court.

On Friday, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent Brian Higgins, a friend of O’Keefe’s, testified about flirtatious text conversations he had with Read in the weeks before O’Keefe’s death, as well as a moment they shared when he said Read kissed him after a party. Defense attorneys are expected to finish cross-examining Higgins Tuesday morning.

The trial resumes Tuesday after the long weekend. Tuesday will be the only day the trial is in session this week.

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Karen Read trial live updates: Read may have had BAC more than three times limit (2024)
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