Prosecutors are hoping to get their hands on footage from TV interviews Karen Read gave to NBC’s “Dateline” and ABC’s “Nightline” as she awaits trial in the 2022 death of her Boston police officer boyfriend.
In motions filed last week, the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office asked the court to order both networks to turn over video of Read’s interviews, including raw footage that wasn’t aired.
The recordings, prosecutors argued, are evidentiary and relevant to the case against Read, who is accused of backing her car into John O’Keefe outside another 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.
Read “has put forth numerous conflicting theories relevant to her involvement and to the existence of physical evidence recovered from her vehicle, the victim’s clothing, and the medical examiner’s findings of fact,” prosecutors wrote in one of the motions.
Specifically, prosecutors cited a defense theory that O’Keefe was murdered by individuals inside the home at 34 Fairview Road. Read’s lawyers have argued that she was framed, suggesting that O’Keefe was beaten, attacked by the homeowner’s dog, and left outside.
“These claims are made without a scintilla of evidence to support them,” prosecutors contended. “Yet, the defendant continues to use the media to both contradict her prior statements and to facilitate her profession of innocence, while making baseless accusations against nearly every witness, law enforcement officer, or expert involved in the substantial case against her.”
Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey also issued a rare video statement last month, condemning the “baseless” harassment of witnesses in Read’s case and pushing back on conspiracy theories surrounding O’Keefe’s death.
What does the law say?
The request for footage from NBC and ABC is notable; Massachusetts is among a handful of states that do not have a so-called “shield law,” which allows journalists to refuse to disclose sources or unpublished information.
Without a well-defined law in place, the decision is generally left to a judge’s discretion on a case-by-case basis — a common law approach that can spell uncertainty for journalists, according to the nonprofit Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Even if Massachusetts did have qualified reporter’s privilege, prosecutors argued, “parties seeking disclosure of non-confidential materials are entitled to seek discovery from a media entity if they can show ‘that the materials at issue are of likely relevance to a significant issue in the case, and are not reasonably obtainable from other available sources.’”
NBC and ABC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Defense team seeking snowplow data
Separately, Read’s lawyers have filed a motion asking Canton officials to produce GPS data and records regarding snowplows that were deployed near Fairview Road on the day O’Keefe died.
The defense team asserted that other guests who were at the home did not see O’Keefe lying in the front yard as they left after midnight on Jan. 29. Prosecutors have said that Read and two other women found his body in the snow by a cluster of trees later that morning.
Read’s lawyers also said that a defense investigator was able to track down the snowplow driver who allegedly cleared Fairview Road that day.
“I asked him whether he believed he would have seen a body on the lawn of 34 Fairview Road, if one was there, from the view of his cab while snowplowing,” private investigator Paul Mackowski wrote in an accompanying affidavit.
The driver responded “without equivocation” that he would have seen a body in the front yard, Mackowski continued. According to the affidavit, the driver also alleged that he saw a car parked in front of the home — “exactly where the body was found” — around 3:30 or 4 a.m.
The requested records are “clearly relevant” to the question of whether O’Keefe was lying incapacitated on the front lawn after being struck by a vehicle, the defense team argued.
Read is due back in court on Sept. 15 for a motion hearing.
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