A Massachusetts professor pleaded not guilty to running over her police officer boyfriend and leaving him for dead in a snowbank after a night of drinking in Boston’s suburbs during last weekend’s nor’easter.
Karen Read, 41, was arraigned on charges of manslaughter, leaving the scene of a serious accident and motor vehicle homicide Wednesday in connection with the death of Boston Officer John O’Keefe, according to The Boston Globe.
Bail was reportedly set at $50,000 for the equity analyst and adjunct professor of finance at Bentley University, as emotions ran high in a packed Stoughton, Massachusetts, courtroom.
Read was barhopping with O’Keefe, 46, on Friday night, and dropped him off at a house party in Canton, a police affidavit reportedly said. She allegedly slammed into him with her SUV while making a turn as she left, prosecutors said.
In the morning, Read noticed that her vehicle was damaged as she frantically tried to get in touch with O’Keefe to find out why he didn’t come home. She enlisted two friends to help figure out what happened, according to the report.
Read’s friend told investigators “she believed Karen was still intoxicated in the morning” and said the suspect “did not remember last night,” the article said.
When the suspect and her friends found the 16-year police veteran, he was face up, unconscious and covered in snow near blood stains and a broken cocktail glass in blizzard conditions that dumped some 30 inches of powder on the area, the article said.
Read reportedly tried to resuscitate O’Keefe, but he died later in the day at a hospital. She admitted to mowing him down on the scene, telling first responders, “I hit him, I hit him, I hit him, I hit him,” the article said.
O’Keefe’s longtime law enforcement partner was in court as his alleged killer was arraigned, the Globe reported. He declined to give his name to the paper, but told them O’Keefe had been dating Read for years.
“He was the best person on the planet,” he reportedly said.
Boston’s top cop attended the arraignment in uniform along with dozens of men and women who appeared to be off-duty police officers, the newspaper said.
“The Boston Police Department continues to grieve over the tragic loss of our brother, Police Officer John O’Keefe,” Superintendent-In-Chief Gregory Long wrote in a statement Tuesday. “John was a kind person, dedicated to his family, and will be greatly missed by his coworkers and anyone who had the privilege of meeting him.”
Read’s lawyer said his client was in shock and distraught over O’Keefe’s death, which he said was an accident. Defense attorney David Yannetti told the newspaper he thought prosecutors had rushed to charge Read because the victim was a politically connected cop.
“Manslaughter is a tremendous reach in this case,” defense attorney David Yannetti reportedly said in court. “I don’t see any criminal intent … this was my client’s boyfriend, somebody with whom she was in love.”
O’Keefe, a Braintree native, had stepped up to be the caretaker of his niece and nephew after both their parents died, police said in a statement.
“John was not only a dedicated police officer, he was an exemplary guardian, son, brother, uncle and friend and we were so fortunate to have him as a part of our lives,” the statement said. “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.”