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Boston Criminal Defense Pursues Third Party Culprit Defense in Karen Read Trial

The Karen Read Trial got underway Monday 29th of April and is likely to continue for 6-8 weeks. Judge Beverly Cannone allowed the defense to pursue a third party culprit defense, a theory that other people are responsible for John O’ Keefe’s death. However, the defense was not allowed to share their theory in opening statements to the jury.

The defense shared that they believe Karen Read had been framed. They introduced disparaging text messages from State Trooper John Proctor towards Karen Read, and said that State Trooper Proctor had said he had attempted to look through Read’s phone for nude photos without a warrant and had texted friends he hoped Read would kill herself.

They also questioned evidence of a broken taillight the prosecution had claimed proved that Read backed into her boyfriend John O’ Keefe. The defense pointed out discrepancies in the evidence collected at the scene by investigators and shared evidence that the street had been plowed the night of John O’ Keefe’s death, contradicting the evidence presented by the prosecution.

The prosecution stated that evidence from first responders implicated Karen Read in the death of her boyfriend John O’ Keefe. A Canton firefighter recalled Karen Read repeatedly saying “I hit him,” while a Canton police officer recalled Read saying “This is my fault. This is my fault. I did this.” However, the defense attempted to scrutinize these testimonies, pointing out mistakes in the police dispatch log, where Read was not reported as saying “This is my fault,” only “is he dead?”

A third party culprit defense is a defense strategy that can be admissible if the evidence is relevant, not too remote and speculative and will not prejudice a jury.

If you or someone you know has been accused of a serious crime, it’s critical to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to prepare a robust defense and scrutinize the evidence gathered by law enforcement. Please contact a member of the experienced Boston criminal defense team at Dhar Law LLP at (617) 880-6155 to learn more.


Have you or a family member been charged or arrested? It’s important not to make mistakes early on in your case. Download our PDF on the top 3 things to do to help your defense or if you have been arrested by the State Police or FBI or you are the subject of an FBI Arrest Warrant.

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Heading up the firm, Vikas Dhar is widely recognized as a leader in the New England legal community. An accomplished business litigator and a “Top 40 Under 40” criminal defense attorney, he has also been honored as a New England Super Lawyer/Rising Star in the area of White-Collar Criminal Defense for each of the past six years by Boston Magazine.

I have the power and the skill to be able to save people from themselves. I can be your guide during the darkness. I can hold your hand and navigate you out of the darkness into the light.

— Vikas Dhar
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