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Norfolk DA says he is mystified by US attorney, FBI interest in Karen Read murder prosecution

Karen Read stood outside of court in May.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey said Tuesday he was mystified why federal prosecutors and the Boston office of the FBI have taken the “extraordinary step” of conducting an inquiry into the ongoing Karen Read murder prosecution.

“They don’t have any jurisdiction over a state murder trial, so this is an extraordinary step on their part,” Morrissey said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I’m not worried because I have the utmost confidence in what we’ve done and what people have told us.”

Morrissey said he dates the federal involvement in the high-profile case to April, when Rachael Rollins was the US attorney for Massachusetts. Rollins resigned May 19 amid a pair of ethics probes that found she misused the power of her office.

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Since the spring, Morrissey said, he has offered to meet with representatives from Acting US Attorney Joshua S Levy’s office and FBI agents to address any concerns they might have about the Read case, but they have not done so.

“There have been communications by a variety of people, including myself to both the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office, to encourage them to come and speak with us.” Morrissey said. “They have not taken us up on the offer.”

Boston25 reported on the federal inquiry on Monday. A spokeswoman for Levy’s office, Christina Sterling, declined to comment on Tuesday.

“We do not confirm or deny investigations,” she said by email. Kristen Setera, a spokeswoman for the Boston FBI office, also declined to comment.

Morrissey said his office has not received formal notice from federal authorities about the investigation but has provided Read’s lawyers with all communications with federal officials about the case.

Read, 43, has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter while operating under the influence of alcohol, and leaving the scene of personal injury and death. Prosecutors said she ran over her boyfriend, John O’Keefe, outside a Canton home after a night of drinking. The state medical examiner’s office determined that O’Keefe, 46, died from multiple head injuries and hypothermia.

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Read’s lawyers, David Yannetti and Alan Jackson, have alleged that she is the victim of a coordinated effort by law enforcement officials to protect O’Keefe’s true killers.

They maintain that O’Keefe was beaten in the basement of the Canton home owned by a fellow Boston police officer, Brian Albert, and that Albert’s dog, a German shepherd, injured O’Keefe’s right arm during the struggle. Prosecutors have dismissed the claims as baseless.

The case has drawn widespread public interest, fueled by the coverage of Aidan Kearney, a controversial blogger known as “Turtleboy” who has championed her claims of innocence. Kearney has been charged with intimidating prosecution witnesses in the case and has pleaded not guilty.


John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him @JREbosglobe.