Here’s what we learned from the ‘Nightline’ clip on Karen Read

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Crime

Accused of killing boyfriend John O’Keefe, Karen Read opened up about their relationship and shared her version of events from the night he died.

Karen Read, a Mansfield woman charged in the death of her boyfriend, John O’Keefe, spoke to “Nightline” for a segment aired this week. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Karen Read proclaimed her innocence to a national audience Monday night, opening up to ABC’s “Nightline” about her relationship with Boston police officer John O’Keefe and sharing her version of events from the night he died.

Read is accused of backing her car into O’Keefe and leaving him to die in the snow outside a fellow Boston police officer’s Canton home in January 2022.

But the Mansfield woman has steadfastly denied the allegations, pleading 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.

“I did not kill John O’Keefe,” she told ABC News’ Matt Gutman in the “Nightline” clip. “I have never harmed a hair on John O’Keefe’s head.”

She described O’Keefe as “the patron saint of Canton,” adding, “He was just very selfless, frugal, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that didn’t care for John.”

Here’s what we learned from Read’s “Nightline” interview:

Read and O’Keefe had a strained relationship at times

The couple first dated in their 20s before reconnecting during the pandemic, Gutman reported.

“He had reached out to me on Facebook and he said, ‘Hey, blast from the past. How’s things?’” Read recalled. “And when I saw his picture, his profile picture was with several young children, and then it triggered my memory that his sister and his sister’s husband had passed away. And he told me, ‘Yeah, I have the kids now.’ I admired that; I thought that was amazing.”

Boston Police Officer John OKeefe<i> Boston Police Department via AP<i>

But their roughly two-year relationship was fraught at times; Read told Gutman that O’Keefe had been relying on her more to take care of the kids, and that he criticized some of the childcare decisions she’d made.

“We had had an argument on New Year’s Eve,” Read said in Monday’s interview, recalling an incident where O’Keefe became “incoherently drunk” and left her with his niece and nephew. 

“I felt very much taken advantage of,” she said. “He apologized profusely for what happened on New Year’s Eve, and he said, ‘If you can’t get over it, then you need to spend some time at your house. I can’t keep apologizing; I don’t want to keep rehashing this.’”

According to a prior court document shared by Boston 25 News, O’Keefe’s niece and nephew told investigators that the couple argued regularly, and that O’Keefe had expressed a desire to take a break from the relationship. Read, meanwhile, allegedly told authorities that she and O’Keefe argued the morning before he died over what she fed his niece for breakfast.

What happened when Read dropped O’Keefe off?

O’Keefe and Read joined some friends at the Waterfall Bar & Grille in Canton on Jan. 28 and were later invited back to the home of Brian Albert, a fellow Boston officer whom Read said O’Keefe admired.

“Both times I met Brian Albert, he seemed like the type of person that you’d be surprised he’s out socially, because he doesn’t seem like he ever wants to be there,” she said.

The couple drove to Albert’s home; from there, accounts differ.

Prosecutors allege that Read dropped O’Keefe off, made a three-point turn, rammed into her boyfriend, and drove away. 

Her lawyers argue that Read was framed, suggesting that O’Keefe was severely beaten, attacked by Albert’s dog, and left outside. However, prosecutors have repeatedly rejected the defense team’s claims of a conspiracy and cover-up, accusing Read’s attorneys of making out-of-court statements that amounted to “unsubstantiated proclamations, supported only by self-serving speculation and conjecture.” 

Read offered her own version of events Monday, telling “Nightline” that she was unsure whether the afterparty invitation extended to her and wanted O’Keefe to double check.

“I pull at the foot of the driveway. It’s snowing. John has no coat on. It’s windy,” she recalled. “So I drop him off, he goes up the driveway, and approaches the side door. And as I see him approach the door, I look down at my phone.”

Read told “Nightline” that after about 10 minutes of waiting in her car, she became irritated that O’Keefe hadn’t gotten in touch. She said she drove back to his home, noticing when she awoke before 5 a.m. that he still hadn’t returned.

She began searching for O’Keefe, enlisting help from two other women: Kerry Roberts, O’Keefe’s friend, and Jennifer McCabe, Albert’s sister-in-law and a fellow afterparty guest. 

The three women headed to Albert’s home, where they found O’Keefe lying in the snow. He was pronounced dead soon afterward at Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton.

Karen Read, center, in a gray suit, stands on the steps of the courthouse, flanked by two of her lawyers. They are surrounded by members of the media holding cameras and microphones.
Karen Read a Mansfield woman charged with murdering her Boston police officer boyfriend John OKeefe appeared in Norfolk County Superior Court for a pretrial hearing on May 3 2023<i> John TlumackiGlobe Staff File<i>

Did Read say ‘I hit him’?

A forensic specialist who examined Read’s SUV found “a dent with chipped paint in the trunk door, a broken tail light, and scratches on the bumper,” as well as human hair on the “rear passenger side quarter panel,” prosecutors wrote in a May motion.

“I had told both Jen and Kerry that I cracked my tail light,” Read said in Monday’s interview. “I said, ‘I just hit my car, on top of everything. But I didn’t look at the damage.’ And both women said, ‘It’s cracked. It’s cracked. Calm down, you cracked your tail light. You’re OK, let’s go look for John.’”

McCabe allegedly told investigators that Read stated, “Could I have hit him?” and “Did I hit him?” Prosecutors also said a first responder at the scene reported hearing Read say, “I hit him, I hit him, I hit him.”

“I said ‘I hit him.’ It was preceded by a ‘did’ and proceeded by a question mark,” Read told “Nightline.” “What I thought could have happened was that, ‘Did I incapacitate him unwittingly, somehow, and then in his drunkenness, [he] passed out?’”

Gutman asked her if it was possible that she hit O’Keefe unintentionally.

“No,” she replied. “Not possible.”

Read is due back in court on Sept. 15.

Watch the “Nightline” clip below:

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