DA issues rare statement condemning conspiracy theories, harassment in Karen Read case


“It should be an outrage to any decent person, and it needs to stop. Innuendo is not evidence. False narratives are not evidence.”

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Karen Read, a Mansfield woman charged with murder for allegedly killing her boyfriend, Boston police Officer John O’Keefe, appeared in Norfolk Superior Court in May. John Tlumacki/Boston Globe Staff, File

The Norfolk County district attorney issued a rare video statement Friday condemning the harassment of several witnesses involved in the prosecution of Karen Read, who is charged with killing her boyfriend in 2022.

In his out-of-court remarks, District Attorney Michael Morrissey emphatically pushed back on the frenzied conspiracy theories that have come to characterize Read’s case, stating outright that several witnesses were not to blame for Boston police officer John O’Keefe’s death. 

“This will be the first statement of its kind in my dozen years as Norfolk district attorney. The harassment of witnesses in the murder prosecution of Karen Read is absolutely baseless,” Morrissey said in the video. “It should be an outrage to any decent person, and it needs to stop. Innuendo is not evidence. False narratives are not evidence.”

Conflicting narratives in the Karen Read case

Prosecutors say Read backed her car into O’Keefe and left him to die in the snow while dropping him off at a fellow Boston police officer’s home in Canton in January 2022. 

The Mansfield woman 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.

Her lawyers argue that Read was framed, suggesting that O’Keefe was severely beaten inside the home, attacked by the homeowner’s dog, and left outside.

However, Morrissey maintained that evidence shows O’Keefe never entered the home at 34 Fairview Road in Canton on the night he died. He also noted that an autopsy concluded O’Keefe’s injuries were not the result of a fight, nor an animal attack. 

“Eleven people have given statements that they did not see John O’Keefe enter the home at 34 Fairview [Road] that night,” the DA said. “Zero people have said that they saw him enter the home. Zero. No one.”

Boston.com has reached out to Read’s attorneys for comment on Morrissey’s statement.

‘They are merely witnesses’

Morrissey also shot down claims that the homeowner, Brian Albert, and several of his relatives were involved in killing O’Keefe or that they had engaged in a cover-up.

“These people were not part of a conspiracy and certainly did not commit murder or any crime that night,” the DA said. “They have been forthcoming with authorities, provided statements, and have not engaged in any cover-up. They are not suspects in any crime — they are merely witnesses in the case.”

He added: “To have them accused of murder is outrageous. To have them harassed and intimidated based on false narratives and accusations is wrong. They are witnesses doing what our justice system asks of them.”

Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey speaks during an unrelated 2018 press conference. – Keith Bedford/Boston Globe Staff, File

Morrissey’s statement also touched on Michael Proctor, a Massachusetts State Police trooper who some of Read’s most ardent defenders have accused of planting evidence at the scene. The DA said Proctor had no close personal relationship with anyone involved in the investigation, nor was he at the scene the day O’Keefe died. 

“I am asking the Canton community and everyone who feels invested in this case to hear all of the actual evidence at trial before assigning guilt to people who have done nothing wrong,” Morrissey said. “And certainly before taking it upon yourself to harass citizens who, evidence shows, have done nothing in this matter but come forward and bear witness.”

Earlier this summer, prosecutors tried and failed to secure a gag order that would have barred Read’s attorneys from speaking about certain aspects of the case outside the courtroom, arguing that the lawyers’ comments fueled an invasion of witnesses’ privacy.

On Friday, Morrissey called the conspiracy allegations “completely contrary to the evidence and a desperate attempt to re-assign guilt.”

“We try people in the court and not on the internet for a reason,” the DA said. “The internet has no rules of evidence. The internet has no punishment for perjury. And the internet does not know all the facts.”

Watch the full video of Morrissey’s remarks, via NBC10 Boston: