A high-profile California lawyer who represented actor Kevin Spacey has joined the defense team for Karen Read, the Mansfield woman charged with second-degree murder for allegedly driving over her boyfriend, Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe, during a blizzard in Canton this January.
The addition of lawyer Alan Jackson was disclosed in Norfolk Superior Court records in which her lead defense attorney, David R. Yannetti, alleges police “miraculously” found crucial physical evidence prosecutors say links Read to the death.
Yannetti argued in the court records that O’Keefe’s injuries indicated he was the victim of a violent assault rather than being hit by a vehicle.
Jackson said in a phone interview Friday that he considers the prosecution of Read an “abject injustice.”
“This investigation very clearly has been infected with personal relationships and conflicts of interests and coverups,” he said. “And we intend to shine as much light on it as possible to stop this very obviously compromised prosecution in its tracks.”
The defense alleges that a State Police investigator on the case, Trooper Michael D. Proctor, has a conflict of interest with a potential witness, a second Boston police officer, raising “serious questions as to the objectivity and veracity of the police investigation that has been conducted to date.”
Asked for a response to the conflict-of-interest allegations, a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey said prosecutors will respond in court.
“While we will give our detailed response to the defendant’s motion in court, the District Attorney is well aware of his obligations to resolve any conflict of interest,” spokesman David Traub wrote in an e-mail.
O’Keefe’s death came after an outing with Read and friends at a Canton bar that ended in front of 34 Fairview Drive in Canton, the home of Brian Albert, also a Boston police officer, and his wife, Nicole, where an after-party was held. At the time, a blizzard was underway, a storm that ultimately dropped 20 inches of snow and had temperatures as low as 12 degrees.
According to both the defense and Morrissey’s office, Read and O’Keefe joined a group that included the Alberts at the Waterfall Bar and Grille, and when it closed, they headed to the Alberts’ home.
There was no sign of tension between Read and O’Keefe at the bar, witnesses said. But prosecutors allege in court papers that O’Keefe wanted to end their relationship, that the couple argued frequently, and that Read had left a voicemail on O’Keefe’s phone during which she screamed that she hated him, records show.
Read and O’Keefe arrived outside the Albert home in her black Lexus SUV after midnight.
Morrissey’s office alleges that after O’Keefe exited the passenger side of Read’s SUV, he was hit by the right rear side of the vehicle as Read was making a three-point turn. Read, whom authorities contend was legally drunk at the time, allegedly then drove off.
O’Keefe was found by Read under 6 inches of snow about six hours later. The state medical examiner’s office concluded he died from hypothermia and multiple head injuries, according to prosecutors.
Yannetti challenged the prosecution’s conclusion that O’Keefe’s injuries resulted from being hit by a vehicle in court records, and instead argued that the medical examiner’s findings describe a man who was subjected to a violent assault.
“O’Keefe had been beaten severely and left for dead, having sustained blunt force injuries to both sides of his face as well as to the back of his head,” Yannetti wrote. O’Keefe had “defensive wounds on his hands consistent with a brutal fight” and had “deep scratches or bite marks to his right upper arm and forearm,” he wrote.
The critical physical evidence against Read are shards of red and white plastic authorities reported they found near where O’Keefe lay in the snow. Yannetti wrote in court papers that Canton police used a leaf blower to remove snow and recovered just six drops of blood and nothing else.
Meantime, Proctor had seized Read’s SUV and towed it to the Canton police station, where officers had access to it for an hour and 18 minutes, Yannetti said. And it was only after the SUV was in police custody that a second search was conducted by State Police, he wrote.
That search “miraculously revealed — for the first time — red and white pieces of plastic found on the ground consistent with the taillight of Ms. Read’s vehicle... the only physical evidence against Ms. Read in the entire case,“ Yannetti wrote.
The extended families of both Proctor and Albert are known to each other and have attended family events like weddings, the defense contends.
State Police spokesman David Procopio declined to comment on the allegations against Proctor, citing the ongoing criminal investigation.
Yannetti is also requesting forensic examination of the cellphones of the Alberts and five other people at the bar and at the Albert home, contending that messages will provide more information about what happened after Read dropped O’Keefe off.
Jackson represented Spacey when he was prosecuted by Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe’s office for allegedly groping a teenager at Nantucket bar in 2017. Jackson’s legal team discovered messages had been deleted from the teen’s cellphone, and the teenager declined to testify further when told he could be prosecuted for destroying evidence.
O’Keefe’s office dropped the charge.