Defense attorneys representing a Massachusetts woman charged in the 2022 death of her boyfriend, a Boston police officer, say they have uncovered new evidence suggesting she is innocent and that others were involved in the death.
The attorneys have previously argued there was a large-scale coverup between local and state police investigating the case.
Karen Read of Mansfield has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Officer John O'Keefe last January outside a home in Canton. Read is accused of hitting O'Keefe with her car and leaving him to die in the snow. She has pleaded not guilty.
The couple had been drinking at a bar on the night of Jan. 28, 2022, with a group that included the residents of the home. Read's attorneys have said she dropped O'Keefe off at the house in Canton a short time after 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 29 and left.
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On April 12, the lawyers claimed in court motions that newly uncovered records from someone else's cellphone suggest they had searched the phrase "Ho[w] long to die in cold" on Google hours before 911 was called to report O'Keefe was found in the snow.
"This evidence unequivocally exonerates Karen," lawyers Alan Jackson and David R. Yannetti said in a statement, because it establishes that other people "were aware that John was dying in the snow before Karen even knew he was missing."
On April 12, the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office acknowledged receiving the new motion from the defense team and said it was not yet clear if the defense was interpreting the information correctly. A week later, the district attorney's office issued a statement saying that they plan to have a "detailed response" to the court on May 3 "that refutes the assertions in that motion."
Central to the defense's new argument is a "complete forensic image" of the phone, which the attorneys said in a court filing "was withheld from the defense for more than a year" by Massachusetts State Police and the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office. They asked a judge to allow them to inspect another phone as well as call and text records and other information.
A key piece of evidence this forensic image uncovered, according to the defense, is a Google search made around 2:30 a.m.: "Hos [sic] long to die in cold," along with other searches.
Prosecutors have previously said hypothermia is believed to have been a contributing factor in O'Keefe's death — an autopsy also uncovered multiple skull fractures, a two-inch laceration to the back of his head, two black eyes and cuts on his arm and nose.
The phone's search history and other information were deleted, according to the defense. They provided an affidavit from a data forensics expert they hired detailing the findings and argued that prosecutors were obliged to tell them that evidence in their possession had been altered but did not.
"Why did we have to find all this evidence?" the lawyers said in the statement. "Why did the prosecution hide this bombshell exculpatory information."
NBC10 Boston reached out to the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office for comment on the claims raised by the defense team, and a representative noted that the office is bound not to discuss cases outside of court.
"While prosecutors are ethically constrained in the statements that can be made outside the courtroom, the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office is in receipt of the motion filed today but it has not yet been determined that defense has interpreted the raw data correctly. The Norfolk District Attorney's Office has asked defense repeatedly during the pendency of this matter to provide any actually exculpatory evidence to support their claims," spokesman David Traub said in the statement. "Our formal and detailed response to the motion will be to the Court on or after May 3, 2023."
Read's lawyers said they were eager to presenting the evidence at the May 3 hearing.