A guide to key players in the Karen Read murder case


Karen Read’s sensational murder case heads to trial later this month. These are the key players you need to know. 

Karen Read attends a hearing at Norfolk Superior Court in February. Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe Staff, File

The Karen Read murder case is heading to trial later this month, the culmination of more than two years of courtroom battles, conspiracy theories, bitter protests, and cover-up claims.

Needless to say, keeping track of who’s who in this sprawling legal saga is easier said than done. With that said, here’s a guide to the key players in Read’s high-profile case. 

Karen Read

The 44-year-old Mansfield woman is accused of backing her SUV into her boyfriend, Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe, and leaving him to die outside a home in Canton on Jan. 29, 2022, following a night of drinking. 

Read has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, motor vehicle manslaughter while driving under the influence, and leaving the scene of a collision causing injury and death. She’s currently free on bail.

Read previously worked as an equity analyst at a financial firm and an adjunct finance professor at Bentley University in Waltham. She and O’Keefe first dated in their 20s before reconnecting during the pandemic, ABC’s “Nightline” reported last summer.

Though the couple’s two-year relationship was allegedly fraught at times, Read’s lawyers maintain her innocence in O’Keefe’s death. In fact, the defense has alleged a conspiracy among law enforcement and witnesses to frame Read, suggesting that O’Keefe was actually beaten inside the home, which was owned by fellow Boston officer Brian Albert. 

Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe. – Boston Police Department via AP

John O’Keefe

O’Keefe, 46, was a 16-year veteran of the Boston Police Department who was assigned to the Sex Offender Registry Unit, according to The Boston Globe. He was off-duty when Read and two other women found him unresponsive in the snow outside Albert’s home on Fairview Road.

O’Keefe was raising his young niece and nephew in Canton after his sister and her husband died.

“When John’s sister passed away, and then her husband did as well a short time later, John welcomed the opportunity to raise his beloved niece and nephew and build a home and a life around their needs,” O’Keefe’s family said in a statement soon after his death. “People talk about someone who would give you the shirt off their back but that was truly who John was.”

The witnesses

Brian Albert

Albert is a Boston police sergeant detective who owned the home in Canton where O’Keefe’s body was found. He and his wife were at the Waterfall Bar & Grille in Canton with friends on Jan. 28, 2022, when Read and O’Keefe arrived and joined the group. As the bar closed around midnight, the Alberts invited stragglers back to their home for an afterparty.

Albert and his relatives have been frequent targets for Read’s attorneys, who alleged in an April 2023 motion that law enforcement “utterly failed to treat Mr. Albert (and his family members who were present on the night in question) as suspects.”

The defense alleged, in part, that Albert’s decision to sell his longtime family home less than a year after O’Keefe died showed “additional evidence of consciousness of guilt.”

In a separate court filing, Greg Henning — Albert’s lawyer — explained that Albert and his wife decided to sell their home and downsize in late 2021, before O’Keefe’s death. They made minor improvements to the property and eventually sold the house in early 2023, he said. 

“It appears that Brian Albert has been chosen by the defense as one of the scapegoats,” Henning wrote. “Therefore, everything he does can be misinterpreted to benefit the defense theory of the case — even the most benign actions.

Albert’s former pet — a German shepherd named Chloe — also came under fire after the defense suggested that O’Keefe’s wounds could have come from a dog attack

Read’s lawyers cast the Alberts’ decision to re-home Chloe as suspicious, but Henning explained that the dog escaped from a fenced yard and “went after” a neighbor’s pet a few months after O’Keefe died.

“When the Alberts asked the neighbor how they could reassure her, she expressed an ongoing concern for walking her dog,” Henning wrote. “After difficult family conversations, the Alberts chose to re-home the dog but remained in touch with the new owner.” 

Further, prosecutors said in a February court filing that there was no canine DNA found on swabs taken from O’Keefe’s clothing in the areas near his injuries. 

Jennifer McCabe

McCabe, Brian Albert’s sister-in-law, was also among the group at the Waterfall Bar & Grille on Jan. 28, 2022. McCabe and another woman — O’Keefe’s longtime friend Kerry Roberts — were with Read when she found O’Keefe’s body outside Albert’s home the following morning.

According to court documents, McCabe told police she received a call from a “distraught” Read at 4:53 a.m., asking about O’Keefe’s whereabouts. Read allegedly told McCabe she and O’Keefe had gotten into an argument the last time she saw him. 

McCabe told investigators Read mentioned a cracked tail light on her SUV and asked, “Could I have hit him” and “did I hit him?,” according to court documents. Read reportedly called Roberts as well, and the three women headed to Fairview Road to look for O’Keefe. 

McCabe’s Google searches from Jan. 29, 2022, have become a point of contention in the case. Read’s lawyers allege that she searched, “Ho[w] long to die in cold” at 2:27 a.m. — hours before finding O’Keefe’s body in the snow. 

However, prosecutors have argued that the 2:27 a.m. timestamp is based on misconstrued phone data, and that McCabe made the search shortly after finding O’Keefe’s body around 6 a.m. McCabe reportedly told investigators that Read asked her to Google, “How long do you have to be left outside to die from hypothermia” after they found O’Keefe. 

Michael Proctor

Proctor is a Massachusetts State Police trooper who led the investigation into O’Keefe’s death. Read’s lawyers have repeatedly attacked Proctor’s credibility, calling him “corrupt” and alleging he had undisclosed personal ties to the Alberts. 

Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey previously stated 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.”

Last month, however, defense attorneys cited newly available information from a federal investigation into Read’s case and alleged that Proctor admitted before a federal grand jury that he knows the Alberts and has socialized with them.

According to the defense, Proctor allegedly texted about having Julie Albert — Brian Albert’s sister-in-law — babysit for him 10 days before O’Keefe’s death. A few days after O’Keefe was killed, Proctor’s sister allegedly texted the trooper telling him that Julie Albert wanted to give him a thank-you gift “when all this is over.”

Last month, State Police confirmed an internal investigation into a potential department policy violation by Proctor, though an agency spokesperson declined to specify whether the investigation is connected to Read’s case.

Proctor’s attorney, Michael DiStefano, previously said in a statement that the trooper “remains steadfast in the integrity of the work” he performed while investigating O’Keefe’s death. 

“To the extent that Trooper Proctor’s personal text messages are alluded to in court proceedings regarding Ms. Read, he respectfully submits that the objective investigative steps he and members of his unit took are in no way undermined by the content of the personal messages,” DiStefano said.

Brian Higgins

A federal agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Higgins was part of the group that gathered at the Waterfall on Jan. 28, 2022, and returned to Albert’s home afterward.

According to court documents, Higgins told investigators Read “surprised him with a kiss on the lips” a few weeks earlier, when he went over to O’Keefe’s house to watch a New England Patriots game. Prosecutors said Higgins and Read exchanged romantic text messages in the weeks before O’Keefe died, but their relationship reportedly wasn’t sexual.

The defense alleged in court last month that Brian Albert enlisted his brother Kevin, a Canton police officer, to reach out to Higgins after Higgins stopped returning his calls.

“Your honor, there’s only one way to interpret that,” defense attorney David Yannetti said during the March 20 hearing. “Brian Albert was panicked that … Brian Higgins had flipped on him. Brian Albert enlist[ed] his Canton police officer brother to contact Higgins to try and find out if that was the case.”

But Higgins’s attorney, William Connolly, denied his client’s role in any conspiracy surrounding O’Keefe’s death.

“Participating in a cover-up is contrary to who he is as a human being and a professional,” Connolly said during the hearing. 

The lawyers 

Karen Read’s defense attorney, David Yannetti, speaks to the media following his client’s arraignment at Stoughton District Court on Feb. 2, 2022. – Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff, File

David Yannetti

Yannetti is one of Read’s two lead attorneys. A former Middlesex County prosecutor, he made a name for himself securing convictions for the two men who killed Jeffrey Curley, a 10-year-old Cambridge boy who was abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered in 1997.

Yannetti later switched to private practice and won a new trial and an acquittal for Roland Douglas Phinney Jr., a Lowell man who spent 16 years in prison for a murder he said he didn’t commit.

Read’s defense team includes two other attorneys from Yannetti’s firm: Ian Henchy and Tanis Yannetti (a former Middlesex County prosecutor and David Yannetti’s sister).

Alan Jackson, one of Karen Read’s defense attorneys, speaks during a February hearing at Norfolk Superior Court. – Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe Staff, File

Alan Jackson

Also spearheading Read’s defense is Jackson, a former prosecutor from Los Angeles who secured a murder conviction against music producer Phil Spector in 2009.

That wasn’t Jackson’s only high-profile case: As a defense attorney, he has represented disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in his L.A. rape trial and actor Kevin Spacey in his Nantucket sexual assault case, which was later dismissed. Other notable clients include a Saudi prince, an NBA player, and a former University of Massachusetts student convicted in 2022 of raping a fellow student.

Werksman Jackson & Quinn partner Elizabeth Little joined Jackson on Spacey’s Nantucket case and has teamed up with him again for Read’s case. 

Prosecutor Adam Lally attends a hearing in the Karen Read case at Norfolk Superior Court. – Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe Staff, File

Adam Lally

Lally is an assistant district attorney in Norfolk County and the lead prosecutor on Read’s case, working alongside fellow ADA Laura McLaughlin. 

Lally previously secured a six-month jail sentence for a Wellesley woman charged in a 2018 crash that claimed the lives of two Needham teens. He also worked on the prosecution of Yan Long Chow, a Quincy man accused of running over his ex-wife in the driveway of their shared home. Chow was acquitted in 2019. 

Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey. – Greg Derr/Pool, File

Michael Morrissey

The district attorney for Norfolk County, Morrissey is overseeing Read’s prosecution. He’s a former state lawmaker who was elected DA in 2010, according to a biography provided by his office.

Morrissey has repeatedly voiced confidence in the O’Keefe murder investigation, even as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts conducted an inquiry into Read’s arrest and prosecution.

“The US Attorney’s Office does not have jurisdiction over a state murder case, so this is an extraordinary step on their part,” Morrissey said in a statement last December. “I am unconcerned because I have confidence in what we’ve done and what people have told us.”

However, letters unsealed in court in January also revealed that Morrissey sought to have the federal investigation moved to another office due to possible conflicts of interest, with the DA labeling the probe a “highly unusual and possibly abusive exercise of power.”

Judge Beverly Cannone – Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe Staff, File

Judge Beverly Cannone

Cannone is a former public defender who became a district court judge in 2009 and joined the superior court in 2014. 

She has presided over several notable cases, including both trials for Emanuel Lopes, who was convicted in February of killing Weymouth Police Sgt. Michael Chesna and bystander Vera Adams. Lopes’s first trial in 2023 ended in a mistrial.

Cannone refused to recuse herself from Read’s case last summer after the defense alleged that she had ties to people involved in the investigation — allegations Cannone dismissed as non-credible.

“I want to make it very clear that I reject the notion that untrue and unsubstantiated rumors spread on the internet can force a judge to recuse herself from a case,” the judge said at the time.

A jubilant Aidan Kearney, also known as Turtleboy, is surrounded by supporters outside Norfolk County Superior Court on Dec. 22, 2023. – John Tlumacki/Boston Globe Staff, File


No recap of the Karen Read case would be complete without a mention of Aidan Kearney, the Holden blogger known as “Turtleboy.” Kearney is the de facto face of the “Free Karen Read” movement, proclaiming Read’s innocence in countless blogs, videos, and social media posts.

Yet prosecutors say Kearney’s advocacy eventually crossed the line into criminal activity, and the blogger was arrested in October for allegedly intimidating witnesses in Read’s case. Kearney has since mounted a First Amendment defense, accusing authorities of trying to censor his reporting on the case. 

In January, a newly unsealed search warrant affidavit revealed that Read and Kearney were allegedly in “close communication” for months, with Read purportedly leaking non-public case information to the blogger.

But in a statement following the revelation, Kearney’s lawyer, Tim Bradl, declared: “The only crime here is the robbery of privacy.”

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