Defense puts Colin Albert in the hot seat


The defense played clips of a high school-aged Colin Albert threatening to “f*** up” other teens and showed jurors a photo of Albert with wounded knuckles.

Colin Albert, 20, testifies under cross-examination by Alan Jackson, a lawyer for Karen Read. Pat Greenhouse/Boston Globe Staff

Karen Read’s lawyers gave jurors their most comprehensive glance yet into Read’s third-party culprit defense, alleging that witness Colin Albert had violent tendencies authorities should have explored as part of their investigation into the death of John O’Keefe.

As cross-examination continued Thursday, the defense played clips of a high school-aged Albert threatening to “f*** up” other teens and showed jurors a photo of Albert with wounded knuckles just weeks after O’Keefe died.

Albert, now 20, confirmed the videos show him making threats of violence, though he maintained he’s never been in a fight. He also denied ever exchanging threats with O’Keefe, his former neighbor.

According to prosecutors, Read drunkenly backed into O’Keefe on Jan. 29, 2022, while dropping her boyfriend off at 34 Fairview Road in Canton — a home owned at the time by Colin Albert’s aunt and uncle, Nicole and Brian Albert. Yet lawyers for the Mansfield woman have pointed blame at Colin Albert, who had been in the home earlier that night celebrating his cousin’s birthday.

Read, her lawyers argue, was framed in a widespread coverup intended to protect the Albert family. 

Who are the ‘Advantage boys,’ and how did Colin Albert injure his knuckles?

Colin Albert acknowledged that the knuckles on his right hand appeared “cut up” in a Feb. 26, 2022, photo of him and two friends at the Boston bar Fenway Johnnies. Albert explained that he injured his hand when he braced himself while slipping on a steep, icy driveway at a house party. 

“Seriously?” defense attorney Alan Jackson asked skeptically, prompting an objection from prosecutors. He forged ahead, asking Albert if he had ever been in a fight.

“Other than with my brothers, no,” Albert said.

“You’ve never been in a fight?” Jackson pressed. 

“Nope,” Albert replied. 

Colin Albert, 20, is cross-examined on the stand. A photograph of him (right) with busted knuckles is projected on the screen. – Pat Greenhouse/Boston Globe Staff

Later, Jackson noted that Albert’s knuckles were injured again when he testified in a July 2023 court proceeding. Albert confirmed those injuries were from “hitting a heavy bag.” He testified Thursday that he has hit punching bags before, though he said he hasn’t received any formal training in boxing. 

Judge Beverly Cannone sent jurors out of the courtroom briefly as lawyers debated whether the jury should see two video clips Albert said he filmed around his sophomore year of high school. In one clip, Albert can be heard threatening, “I will beat all of your asses” and “I promise you, I will f*** you all up.” In the other, he talks about knocking someone out and yells “bang bang!” 

Jackson argued that the videos indicate Albert had violent tendencies, which he said is relevant to the defense’s theory that someone else killed O’Keefe. Yet Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally disputed Jackson’s characterization, telling Cannone, “This is nothing more than rank speculation that bears no relevance whatsoever to this case. You’re talking about something that is dated at least a year, if not two, prior to the incidents in this case.”

Even assuming the videos were filmed closer to O’Keefe’s death, as Albert had suggested in prior testimony, “there is no evidence here of a fight, at all,” Lally argued. He also appeared to reference prior testimony that Albert had already left 34 Fairview Road by the time Read and O’Keefe arrived.

Jackson argued that O’Keefe’s injuries resembled wounds from a physical altercation. He further asserted that Albert’s whereabouts at the time in question rely on testimony from his family and friends. 

“I don’t think it’s lost on anybody that Colin Albert was hidden —  specifically and intentionally hidden — from all of law enforcement for the first several months of this investigation,” Jackson alleged. “Nobody, nobody was willing to even say he was at the house. That is highly, highly suspicious.” 

The two clips were ultimately entered into evidence and shown to the jury. Albert testified that the “Advantage boys” mentioned in one video were members of a club hockey team who had been name-calling him and his friends via text. 

“A couple of the girls in our friend group hung out with them a few times, so all my guy friends got a little salty about it,” he explained. “So that’s why we kind of sent videos back and forth.”

“So you were teenage kids arguing about girls?” Lally clarified. 

“Exactly,” Albert replied. He denied ever meeting up with the hockey players and said they never engaged in a physical altercation. 

How did Colin Albert prepare for his testimony?

Jackson focused some of his cross-examination on the preparation Albert undertook ahead of his testimony. Albert confirmed that he’d spoken with Lally about a month prior and said he’d also conferred with his lawyer. However, he denied discussing his parents’ testimony with them. 

“In your mind, this is an important case, correct? Obviously,” Jackson asked. 

“Correct,” Albert said. 

“But according to you, it just never comes up in the Albert household?” Jackson asked. 

“No,” Albert replied. He also denied following Read’s case online through social media or news coverage.

“So literally, according to you, you know zero about the media coverage concerning this case, the Commonwealth vs. Karen Read?” Jackson asked. 

“Correct,” Albert confirmed. 

Answering additional questions from Lally later on, Albert testified that he hadn’t really thought about the case until he was roped into the online speculation a little over a year ago. 

“People on Twitter, Instagram, social media were just coming at my family, calling us murderers, harassing us, showing up to our doorsteps, our sports games,” Albert explained. “I mean, we couldn’t leave the house without people taking pictures of us, and it’s very terrible.” 

Karen Read smiles as Colin Albert, 20, answers questions from defense attorney Alan Jackson. – Pat Greenhouse/Boston Globe Staff

Albert’s ties to the Proctors put under the microscope

Albert’s family has also faced scrutiny over their ties to Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor, who led the investigation into O’Keefe’s death.

Albert testified Thursday that Proctor’s sister Courtney is friendly with Albert’s aunt Jillian, and he confirmed he served as the ring bearer at Courtney Proctor’s wedding when he was a child. 

“You consider the Proctor family close to your family?” Jackson asked. 

“Yeah,” Albert confirmed.

He testified that State Police interviewed him once in the O’Keefe murder investigation, around the summer of 2023. Trooper Michael Proctor conducted the interview with another investigator, he said. 

“And the interview was comfortable?” Jackson asked. 

“Correct,” Albert said. 

“You didn’t feel like you were on the hot seat?” Jackson continued.

“No,” Albert replied. 

Albert said Proctor didn’t take his cellphone into evidence, look through its contents, or ask to see any messages. He also testified that he didn’t remember coordinating with another trooper, Sgt. Yuriy Bukhenik, about obtaining a screenshot of his text messages. 

After Albert answered a string of questions with variations of “I don’t remember,” Jackson offered a pointed question: “Do you remember anything about this case?”

He withdrew the question following prosecutors’ objections. 

Defense attorney Alan Jackson shows Colin Albert a copy of a screenshot from his phone. – Pat Greenhouse/Boston Globe Staff

‘Where are those texts?’

Jurors previously heard testimony from Albert’s friend Allison “Allie” McCabe, who gave Albert a ride home from 34 Fairview Road shortly after midnight on Jan. 29, 2022. While Albert and McCabe aren’t directly related, they share an aunt and uncle in Nicole and Brian Albert.

Jackson noted that Colin Albert’s text messages with McCabe jump nearly a month from Jan. 29, 2022, to Feb. 20, 2022. He confirmed that Albert learned of O’Keefe’s death at some point in the weeks between. 

“And notwithstanding the fact of this tragedy, you and Allie didn’t text each other one time for a month. Is that right?” Jackson asked. 

“I don’t think that’s correct,” Albert replied. 

“So where are those texts?” Jackson asked. 

“We text on other platforms, too,” Albert explained. “So I’d say other apps.”

“So is there a reason why you decided for the next month to just switch platforms to maybe Snapchat?” Jackson asked. 

“No reason,” Albert said. Asked why he and McCabe made the switch, Albert replied: “We go back and forth, I’d say, between platforms, texting.”

“Do you know that Snapchat has an auto-delete function on it?” Jackson asked. 

“If your app is set to that, yes,” Albert said. 

“Your app was set to that, wasn’t it?” Jackson asked. Albert said he didn’t remember. 

“Isn’t it true, Mr. Albert, that you either switched platforms or deleted the texts because you did not want your text communications with Allie McCabe to be discovered?” Jackson pressed. 

“That’s not true,” Albert said. 

“So where are those communications?” Jackson inquired. 

“I do not know,” Albert replied.

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