Karen Read Murder Trial Is ‘a Circus,’ Says Friend Who Slams Claim She Killed Police Trooper Boyfriend (Exclusive)

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Karen Read is accused of murdering her boyfriend John O’Keefe in 2022, but she contends she's the victim of a massive police coverup

<p>John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe/Getty; Boston Police Department</p> Karen Read, John O

John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe/Getty; Boston Police Department

Karen Read, John O'Keefe

With its bombshell revelations and myriad twists, the Karen Read murder trial has been a wild ride for anyone keeping tabs on the sensational Boston-area case.

Read, 44, of Mansfield, Mass., is accused of backing her Lexus SUV into her boyfriend, Boston police officer John O’Keefe, 46, in the early morning hours of Jan. 29, 2022, while intoxicated, and leaving him to die in the snow, prosecutors allege.

Read and her lawyers claim something else happened at the house party in Canton, Mass., where she dropped O’Keefe that night: that O'Keefe was allegedly beaten up by someone there with whom he had a longstanding dispute. Read's defense argues she's the victim of a massive coverup among the local and state law enforcement community.

“Karen Read was framed,” said defense attorney David Yannetti during opening statements in April. “She did not cause his death, and that means somebody else did.”

<p>David Yannetti</p> John O'Keefe and Karen Read

David Yannetti

John O'Keefe and Karen Read

Related: A Mass. Woman Is Accused of Fatally Running Over Cop Boyfriend — Her Lawyers Say She Was Framed in a Cover-Up

For months, diehard supporters on both sides have gathered each day at Norfolk County Superior Court in Dedham holding signs. Those who support Read hold signs saying, “Framed,” with detractors yelling, “Cop killer!” at her.

<p>Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty</p> A supporter of Karen Read

Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty

A supporter of Karen Read

“A circus has ensued,” O’Keefe’s friend, Sean Hickey, tells PEOPLE. “People scream ‘Free Karen Read,’ at his parents, who are senior citizens. It's a disgrace. Everyone has forgotten that a person lost his life, never mind the good person that he was.”

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For her part, Read, a financial analyst who worked as an adjunct professor at Bentley University, says she loved O’Keefe and did not kill him. “I have never harmed a hair on John O'Keefe's head.” she told ABC News in Aug. 2023.

<p>Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger/USA TODAY NETWORK</p> John O'Keefe's funeral

Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger/USA TODAY NETWORK

John O'Keefe's funeral

The prosecution begs to differ, arguing in court that she allegedly confessed when she was heard saying, “I hit him,” at the scene. She and her lawyers contend that she didn't know whether she'd hit him, and that she actually said, “Did I hit him?”

O'Keefe's injuries weren't consistent with being hit by a car — especially his two black eyes and deep claw-like marks found on his right arm, her lawyers allege. Yannetti believes that O’Keefe may have been attacked by a dog at the home of retired Boston police officer Brian Albert, who hosted a gathering that night that O'Keefe may or may not have attended, a key point of contention in the case. (The dog has since been rehomed.)

Further fueling the theory of a police cover-up, Read’s lawyers claim, are a series of alleged “butt dials” that Albert and ATF agent Brian Higgins, who was there that night, made to each other and that Albert’s sister-in-law, Jennifer McCabe, made to O’Keefe before he was found unresponsive and bleeding in the yard.

<p>Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe/Getty</p> The Canton home of Brian Albert

Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe/Getty

The Canton home of Brian Albert

Read's lawyers cite a group text between people who attended the party as further evidence of a coverup.

“Tell them the guy never went into the house,” one message from a partygoer reads.

To that, Albert allegedly replies, "Exactly," according to Read's lawyers.

They also point to a Google search McCabe allegedly made at 2:27 a.m. to find out how long it takes to die in the cold.

Read's longtime friend Jon Silveira hopes Read is found innocent. Calling her "very honest, very generous and a great friend," he tells PEOPLE, "I'm honored to know her and honored to defend her with this whole mess that she's dealing with."

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