Karen Read has been granted access to some phone records in her murder case. Here’s what that means.


The state’s highest court has ruled that Read can access 24 hours of phone records from a witness who allegedly Googled, “ho[w] long to die in cold.”

Karen Read, center, in a gray suit, stands on the steps of the courthouse, flanked by two of her lawyers. They are surrounded by members of the media holding cameras and microphones.
Karen Read, a Mansfield woman charged with murdering her Boston police officer boyfriend, John O’Keefe, appeared in Norfolk County Superior Court for a pretrial hearing on May 3, 2023. John Tlumacki/Boston Globe Staff, File

Karen Read won an appeal before the state’s highest court this week, granting her access to a day’s worth of phone records belonging to a witness in her high-profile murder case.

Read, 43, is awaiting trial on charges in the Jan. 29, 2022 death of her boyfriend, Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe. Prosecutors say Read struck O’Keefe with her car while dropping him off at an after-party held at the home of another police officer, Brian Albert.

Her lawyers, however, argue that Read is being framed, and that O’Keefe was actually beaten to death. The defense team previously filed a motion seeking cellphone records tied to Albert and his sister-in-law, Jennifer McCabe, both of whom were at a bar with Read and O’Keefe that night.

One of the most hotly contested pieces of evidence in the case is a Google search McCabe allegedly made for “ho[w] long to die in cold.” Read’s lawyers say McCabe made the search at 2:27 a.m. — hours before O’Keefe’s body was found outside Albert’s home in Canton — but prosecutors say that timestamp is based on misinterpreted data. 

Norfolk Superior Court Judge Beverly J. Cannone rejected the defense team’s earlier bid to examine Albert and McCabe’s phone records, though SJC Associate Justice Scott L. Kafker partly reversed that decision in his ruling Wednesday. 

He agreed with Cannone that Read “had not shown that relevant, admissible evidence would be found on Albert’s cell phone or in Albert’s cell phone records” and that the defense team’s request for nearly a week of phone data for McCabe largely constituted a “fishing expedition.” 

However, he did allow Read’s attorneys to access data from McCabe’s phone during the 24-hour period after Read, O’Keefe, and others left the bar around midnight on Jan. 29, 2022.

“The defendant has not provided any information that suggests that records before or after that twenty-four hour period are relevant to the contested Google search,” Kafker wrote. 

Separately, Read’s lawyers filed another motion this week seeking records of communication between McCabe, Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor — the lead investigator on Read’s case — and Proctor’s wife. 

The defense team is also seeking records of any correspondence between Proctor and Brian Albert, or Albert’s wife. 

Read’s lawyers have long alleged that Proctor has personal ties to the Alberts and McCabes, even suggesting that he planted evidence at the crime scene. Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey disputed these claims in a rare video message in August, stating that Proctor “had no close personal relationship with any of the parties involved in the investigation, had no conflict, and had no reason to step out of the investigation. Every suggestion to the contrary is a lie.”

Yet in their latest motion, the defense team asserted that Morrissey’s statement “is unavailing, patently and provably false, and places Trooper Proctor’s neutrality squarely at issue in this case.” 

The lawyers further claimed that Read had uncovered photographs and social media posts establishing a connection between Proctor and the two families, adding, “Trooper Proctor’s relationship, allegiance, and connection to the third party culprits in this case has infected this case from the start.”

Read’s case is due back in court for a motion hearing on Jan. 5. Her trial is set to begin on March 12.