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Karen Read Murder Trial Recap, Week 4: The Defense Goes on the Offensive and Claws Come Out

For background on this case, here's a pre-trial synopsis, and recaps of Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3

--Spoiler: There will be scenes of pure, undiluted Massholery ahead. Virtually every woman who's taken the stand so far is a side character in The Fighter. Or The Girlfriend in Every Boxing Movie:

Between the "sidebahs," the death stared, the talk about ahhhguments, bar hopping, everyone being from Can-uhn, the sideeyes, a chick-on-chick crime, this is us exporting our culture to the world in ways that haven't been seen since the "Your Cousin from Boston" ads. Consider yourself warned.

--Let me begin this with some important housekeeping. I heard from someone with a connection to the Albert and McCabe families who asked me to correct something I said last week. Which is that I claimed that the victim, Boston Police Officer John O'Keefe and retired BPD Detective Sergeant Brian Albert, outside whose house at 34 Fairview Rd in Canton O'Keefe was found lying near death in the snow, were friends. I'm told they never worked together. They knew of each other and were cordial, but never friends. Their connection was that Albert's sister-in-law Jennifer McCabe was friends with O'Keefe and the defendant, Karen Read. I have no intention of mischaracterizing anyone's relationship in any this, and that's on me. But it does point to the difficulties of trying to sort out the web of friends, relatives, co-workers and neighbors in a case this complex. I own that and will keep working to get it right. My bad. 

--Second, I've gotten linked in some Tweets asking if this is the kind of topic Barstool typically covers. You don't have to have been part of our audience for long to understand it definitely isn't. I went into this minefield of facts, counterfactuals, truth, lies, theories and opposing theories treading carefully because not only does no one on the outside know the whole story, but because lives are being ruined on a daily basis. But this trial has struck a nerve unlike any of it's kind in my lifetime as a Masshole. And I hope that the 17 years I spent in court rooms for my job can help sort it out in some small way. Though that's asking a lot of me as a former MA Trial Court hack:

And on that note, credit where it's due to this gentleman:


We'll get to the infamous Google search he's referencing shortly. But there's a lot to get through first.

--On one more personal note, I have this … I guess I'll call it a tin ear … for other people's verbal tics. Once I hear it, I can't unhear it and it makes me loco. And it only gets worse if you're hearing it for days on end like this jury is. For example, there was a pleasant enough attorney who tried cases in my old court who had this bizarrely exaggerated "Ummm" whenever she was in mid-thought. It was like a meditation mantra. Except unnerving as all hell to listen to. Another lawyer was an eccentric professorial type who would do this pronounced "Uh-uh-uh-uh" while searching in his head for a word. Which happened three times a sentence. Until it was all I could do to resist smacking him in the back of the head to jar the missing word forward to his tongue. In this case, the prosecutor has the hosts of lawyerly YouTube channels counting how often he inserts "if any" into every question. As in, "What if anything did you observe?" Including an actual question of "Who if anyone was driving the ambulance?" As if Canton, MA has made a huge investment in self-driving emergency vehicle technology. One morning's worth of testimony had him up to 140 "if any"s. Here are several worked into this Super Cut of overly repeated phrases:

My point is, pray for the jurors. They didn't volunteer for this; they were drafted. And though there have been 40 witnesses so far, some reports say the Commonwealth plans to call 47 more. 

--The unquestioned headliner of this week has been Jennifer McCabe. In the most literal sense:

Her testimony has been appointment television. Compelling. Direct. Combative. Determined. Relentless. Regardless on where you stand on her levels of truthfulness and consistency. McCabes' week actually began Friday on direct examination, as she described the night Officer O'Keefe died.

--A huge piece of the Commonwealth's puzzle is the busted out passenger side taillight on Read's SUV that they allege struck O'Keefe, sent him 12 feet into Albert's front yard, eventually killed him, and left over 40 pieces of broken plastic at the scene that were recovered later. Read's defenders point to doorbell camera footage at her and O'Keefe's place that show her possibly backing into his car as she pulled out of their garage. Whereas McCabe says Read pointed out the broken taillight to her and their friend Kerry Roberts as the three of them went into the garage. So the ADA asked her to narrate what was found in the Ring video:


I'm a fan of the Celtics of the 1970s and '80s. And therefore would get my Masshole license revoked if I didn't compare this to watching a game on TV with the sound down and putting Johnny Most on the radio. It would be like he was calling an entirely different game. One in which Bill Laimbeer was constantly committing mayhem on Larry Bird with no foul called while Chuck Daly was handing the refs bags with big "$" on them. I defy anyone to see in this video any of the things McCabe is describing.

--McCabe is significant - I'll even say crucial - to the prosecution for several reasons. Taken them in no particular order, she has Read saying "I hit him!" over and over again. Which is to say, she did on Friday in direct examination by the Commonwealth. But as the defense hammered her with over and over again, she had never said so before. So her cross-examination turned into a parent arguing with a 14-year-old over whether she was told she had to clean up her room and when it was said:


It got to the point where practically every question the defense asked was answered with a question. Namely, what page of the Grand Jury transcript was he referring to. To the point where Atty. Alan Jackson threw up his hands and said, "Oh my goodness, Ms. McCabe! It was five minutes ago!" And the judge gave the two of them a longer leash to argue back and forth than you'll find on an episode of any daytime TV judge show. 

--Another key part of McCabe's involvement in all this is the repeated calls that went first from her to O'Keefe's phone, then from his to hers. She then proceeds to call his again, seven more times. All within the span of a few minutes. If you believe O'Keefe was attacked once he walked into 34 Fairview and then dragged out to the side of the street, you see this as Jennifer trying to locate his phone inside the house in order to place it under his body. If you're on her side, you buy her explanation. That these were all butt dials:

Which she is accused of denies deleting, but denies any knowledge of that:

Between these seven dials and seven hangups before the calls went to voicemail, that's 14 separate actions she had to accidentally make in 21 minutes. Adding these to butt dials exchanged between ATF agent Brian Higgins (while he was asleep) and Brian Albert (while he was in the throes of making sweet, sweet love with Mrs. Albert) in the middle of that same night, either the citizens of Canton are evolving prehensile ass cheeks, or someone's being less than truthful. I mean, why is Elon Musk wasting his time and money developing Neuralink when the Alberts and McCabes have already perfected Glutelink? Regardless, the Canton Chamber of Commerce ought to consider the new civic slogan: "World Butt Dial Headquarters."

--Yet there is no more role McCabe played that is more central to this whole drama than that aforementioned Google search, "hos long to die in the cold." Which, in an absolutely bananland exchange, she refused to say those words:


Not only would she not allow Jackson to get her to utter the phrase, she accused him of putting it out there on social media. And when he replied he's not on social media, she pivoted to blame the blogger who's been a driving force in all of this from the very beginning, Turtleboy:

--The data suggests McCabe made that search at 2:27am, and later deleted it. Her explanation is that at that time, she was actually Googling for information on basketball tryouts for her daughter. (As a side note, the internet has pointed out that teams tryouts were long since over.) She claims she did, in fact, make that search the next morning, after O'Keefe was found in the snow. With the defendant screaming in her ear to find out what she can about hypothermia. Jackson then accused McCabe of making other, similarly misspelled Google searches to hide her tracks. Which seems to be backed up the Cellebrite data:


Leading the Free Karen Read segment of the population to add Cellebrite to the growing pile of seemingly incontrovertable evidence the pro-Commonwealth side controverts:

--And yet there is no shortage of people who think Jackson went too far with the grilling. And made McCabe a sympathetic figure in the eyes of the jury. A friend of mine who's a trial attorney himself called it "a game changer." 

--Once Jennifer McCabe left the stand (and the Herald got that cover photo that's going to win somebody a Pulitzer), the drama was by no means over. The Commonwealth called Kerry Roberts, who in sharp contrast to the sparks that had been flying for days, spoke in measured tones about what she witnessed. And, depending on your perspective, either helped the prosecution case by testified that she did see Read's taillight broken, or blew it up by seeing "a little black hole" and not the four dozen pieces investigators say they recovered:


Either because the defense saw no benefit or because they were physically and mentally exhausted from sparring with McCabe, they passed on asking questions of this witness.

--But from there, the claws came right back out. In an attempt to portray Karen Read as prone to jealous fits of rage, the Commonwealth called sisters Laura and Marietta Sullivan to the stand. (Thus complying with the Massachusetts state law that requires every proceeding to have at least one Sullivan involved.) Both women were on a New Years trip to Aruba with a crew of about 30 people that included Read and O'Keefe. Laura is the mother of O'Keefe's godchild. But relationships among these people is never all that simple. For starters, there's a Mean Girls element at play here. And Read has Laura's name in her Burn Book:

Here, like with pretty much every aspect of this case, Turtleboy again as the background information:


What Laura Sullivan was testi-crying to is her relationship with O'Keefe, O'Keefe's late partner who fathered her child, and the incident in Aruba in which Read got jealous thinking that O'Keefe was making out with Marietta. But if the prosecution was trying to connect that dot to Read fatally slamming her car into him a month later, they're ignoring a very big detail. Which is that out of a sense or remorse or guilt, Read picked up the dinner tab of six people:

--But for her part, Marietta was in no mood to be so charitable. And fur flew all over the courtroom:

The defense, wisely in my opinion, gave both Sullivan sisters a good leaving alone. Other than to address the very important point that they were nowhere near Canton on January 29th, 2022. Yet still, the State Police investigators met with both of them within 10 days of O'Keefe's death. Implying that the focus of the investigation was to establish a motive and nothing else. Because it's already been put before the jury that they waited a year and a half to talk to some of the people who were actually at 34 Fairview that night. Including Colin Albert, who testified under oath previously that he's never been in a fight:


--As I'm posting this, Brian Higgins is expected to take the stand and be on it all day. If he says anything earth-shattering, I'll update this. But apparently Tuesday is the only day the court will be in session next week. So there'll be plenty of time to catch up. 

Rest in peace, Officer O'Keefe.