Judge gives wrong verdict in Karen Reed murder case


The Norfolk County District Attorney's Office says it plans to retry the case.

Livestream via NBC10 Boston.

After several days of deliberations and many notes from a deadlocked jury, Judge Beverly Cannon has rendered a mistrial in the much-discussed and often controversial Karen Reade murder trial.

The jury was tasked with determining whether Reed, 44, drunkenly and intentionally hit her boyfriend, Boston police Officer John O'Keefe, with her SUV on a snowy night in Canton two years ago. Lawyers for the Mansfield woman had alleged she was implicated in a coverup. A unanimous jury is required for any conviction or acquittal, and jurors ultimately failed to reach unanimity, even after Cannon made a last-ditch effort to break the deadlock by using a so-called “dynamite charge.”

“Despite our strenuous efforts, we find ourselves deadlocked. Our views on the evidence differ significantly,” the jury chief wrote in a note to Cannon at 2:30 p.m.

According to the note, while some jurors believed prosecutors presented their evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, others believed the evidence was insufficient.

“The deep division is not due to a lack of effort or diligence, but rather due to our sincere adherence to our personal principles and moral convictions,” the foreperson wrote. “Continuing to deliberate on this would be futile and would only force us to compromise these deeply held beliefs.”

After Cannon declared a mistrial, O'Keefe's mother sat with her head bowed and silently wiping away tears. As the courtroom emptied, Reed ran to hug her parents and brother.

In a brief statement, the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office said it intends to retry the case against Reed. Cannon scheduled a status hearing for July 22 at 2 p.m. to determine next steps.

“First and foremost, we thank the O'Keefe family for their commitment and dedication to this lengthy process,” the D.A.'s office said. “They did not lose sight of the real heart of this case — to seek justice for John O'Keefe.”

Given the controversial evidence in Reed's case and the intense coverage of the trial on social media, national news outlets and the blogosphere, jurors faced an uphill battle in reaching a consensus.

The first sign of trouble came in a note Friday, when jurors reported they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict despite an “extensive review” of the evidence and “deep consideration.”

Shortly before 11 a.m. Monday, the jury said the case was still at a deadlock.

“Judge Cannon, despite our commitment to the duty entrusted to us, we find ourselves deeply divided due to fundamental differences in our views and state of mind,” Monday's note read. “Our differences in views are not rooted in a lack of understanding or effort, but rather in deeply held beliefs held by each of us, which ultimately lead to a point where consensus is unattainable. We understand the importance of this admission and its implications.”

Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally argued that the jury had not yet completed its proper and thorough deliberations.

Lally said, “I believe this jury heard approximately 29 days of testimony, marked 657 different pieces of evidence, had 74 different witnesses testify before them.” He said the period of deliberation so far did not even amount to an hour of discussion for each day of testimony.

However, defense attorney David Yannetti noted “fundamental” disagreements in the jurors’ language.

“We believe it's time for Tuey-Rodriguez, your honor,” Yannetti said, referring to the formal instructions often read to a deadlocked jury. “They've come back twice now, which essentially indicates they're hopelessly deadlocked.”

Cannon ultimately sided with the defense and opted to read Tuey-Rodriguez the charge.

“I think this has been an exceptional jury,” he said. “I've never seen a report like this that it's at a deadlock.”

The Tuey-Rodriguez charge essentially tells jurors that there is no reason to believe that another jury would be better equipped to decide the case, or that either the prosecution or the defense would be able to present clearer evidence in the event of a retrial. The instructions also remind jurors that they have a duty to decide the case if they can honestly do so.

If Reed is convicted of second-degree murder he could face a life sentence, so the stakes were very high. Reed was also charged with manslaughter while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and fleeing the scene after the fatal crash. The OUI murder charge is punishable by five to 20 years in prison, and if Reed is convicted of fleeing the scene after the fatal crash he could face up to 10 years in prison.

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