‘You’re going to get a DUI,’ Kerry Roberts says she warned Karen Read before search (2024)

Crime

Roberts was one of four witnesses on the stand Wednesday in Read's murder trial.

‘You’re going to get a DUI,’ Kerry Roberts says she warned Karen Read before search (1)

By Abby Patkin

On the stand Wednesday:

  • Marietta Sullivan, Plymouth, MA
  • Laura Sullivan, Pembroke, MA
  • Kerry Roberts, Canton, MA
  • Jennifer McCabe, Canton, MA

4 p.m. update: Karen Read accused John O’Keefe of cheating on her during a trip to Aruba weeks before he died, sisters recall

‘You’re going to get a DUI,’ Kerry Roberts says she warned Karen Read before search (2)

Noticing that John O’Keefe “didn’t seem like he was himself” on a group trip to Aruba over New Year’s Eve in 2021, Laura Sullivan said she asked her friend what was bothering him.

“He seemed distant and I asked him if he was OK and he kind of just shrugged it off,” she recalled. “And I said, ‘Are you happy?’ And he kind of just rolled his eyes and shrugged it off.”

Sullivan, who lives in Pembroke, said she told O’Keefe something along the lines of, “Life is too short to not be happy.”

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“And he said, ‘Well, you know, Laura, it is what it is,’” Sullivan recalled.

She explained that she met O’Keefe in May 2013 and began dating his best friend, fellow Boston Police Officer Pat Rogers. Rogers died by suicide later that year, leaving Sullivan pregnant with the couple’s son.

“Immediately following that, John never really left my side as a support system,” Sullivan testified.

O’Keefe served as godfather to her son Ben, earning himself a playful nickname among Sullivan’s family: “The Godfather.”

“Every birthday, Christmas, he was always in contact,” she recalled. “He was the first person in my delivery room after I gave birth. He was a constant. He was a connection to Pat and always making sure Ben was taken care of in the sense of being there to tell stories or what have you from his relationship with Pat.”

Read, O’Keefe, and his niece and nephew joined Sullivan’s family on a group trip to Aruba around New Year’s to ring in 2022. However, the couple’s relationship experienced some turbulence during the vacation, according to Sullivan and her younger sister, Marietta “Etta” Sullivan. Both women recalled an incident where Read angrily accused O’Keefe of kissing Etta Sullivan.

‘You’re going to get a DUI,’ Kerry Roberts says she warned Karen Read before search (3)

Prosecutors have pointed to Read’s strained relationship with O’Keefe as a possible motive for second-degree murder, specifically citing the incident in Aruba. On the stand Wednesday, Etta Sullivan explained that she exchanged heated words with Read after running into O’Keefe in the lobby during the trip.

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O’Keefe “sort of stumbled in,” she recalled. “I came out of the elevator, and my initial response to him was, ‘Woah, you OK?’ I actually said, ‘Woah Godfather, are you OK?’”

She said she walked over and gave O’Keefe a hug. As they parted ways, Sullivan said she heard someone angrily scream O’Keefe’s name from across the lobby. She testified that as she turned around, she heard someone yell, “Who the f*** was that?”

“And as I come around the corner, I see Mr. O’Keefe walking toward a woman, and … he said, ‘Calm down, that’s Laura’s little sister,’” Sullivan said.

She said she told Read, “Nice to meet you.”

“That’s when Ms. Read’s head snapped up, and she very loudly told me to go f*** myself [from] across the lobby,” Sullivan said. “And I said, ‘Yeah, f*** you too,’ and walked away.”

While she’d seen Read sitting poolside earlier, she said the screaming match was her first interaction with O’Keefe’s girlfriend. She recalled telling her sister afterward that Read “sucks.”

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Laura Sullivan testified that she later asked O’Keefe if Read and her sister had exchanged words.

“And he said, ‘I don’t know,’” Sullivan recalled. “And I said, ‘Well, that’s not what Etta said.’ And I asked him if everything was OK.” She testified that O’Keefe’s phone screen was flashing with calls and texts from “Karen” as they spoke.

“I asked him if he needed to take it, and he said, ‘Yes, she’s crazy. I gotta take care of this,’” Sullivan said.

She said she texted O’Keefe a couple of days later to see if he was coming to a group outing. “And he said, ‘Well apparently I made out with your sister the other night, according to Karen,’” Sullivan recalled.

Etta Sullivan testified that her sister pulled her aside at one point to ask if she kissed O’Keefe, but she denied doing so.

“He was family,” she explained. “He was my older brother, for all intents and purposes. It just never would have happened between us.”

Laura Sullivan said she later saw Read and O’Keefe together the night before they left Aruba.

“Karen grabbed me, and she said, ‘Hey, I’m sorry. I thought I saw something that I didn’t, and I would like to pay for some of your sister’s room,’” Sullivan recalled. “I said, ‘It’s absolutely not necessary. Just an apology will do.’”

2:40 p.m. update: ‘You’re going to get a DUI,’ Kerry Roberts says she warned Karen Read before search

Kerry Roberts testified that she awoke at 5 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2022, to a brief phone call from Karen Read, who was screaming frantically into the phone.

“John’s dead,” she remembered Read yelling. Roberts said Read also called out “Kerry, Kerry, Kerry” before hanging up the phone.

Roberts had known John O’Keefe, Read’s boyfriend of two years, since high school and considered him one of her closest friends. When she finally got Read back on the phone, she learned that O’Keefe hadn’t come home the night before.

“I’m afraid John might be dead. He might have gotten hit by a plow,” Roberts said Read told her.

“I said, ‘OK, where are you now?’ And she said, ‘I’m driving. Can I come to your house? Will you drive my car? I don’t remember anything from last night. We drank so much, I don’t remember anything,’” Roberts recalled.

She said she directed Read to return to O’Keefe’s house and stay with his niece, who was home alone.

“I said, ‘You’re going to get a DUI. You were drinking all night last night, and you don’t remember anything. You shouldn’t be driving,’” Roberts said.

‘You’re going to get a DUI,’ Kerry Roberts says she warned Karen Read before search (4)

She testified that she called the Canton Police Department and Good Samaritan Medical Center to see whether O’Keefe had been in an accident. When she spoke with Read again, she said she learned Read had gone over to Jennifer McCabe’s home.

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Roberts testified that she met up with Read and McCabe at O’Keefe’s house, but O’Keefe wasn’t there. As they set out to search for him, Roberts said Read “really wanted to go” to 34 Fairview Road, where McCabe’s sister and brother-in-law lived and where Read had dropped O’Keefe off the night before.

Roberts also testified that she noticed a piece missing from one of the taillights on Read’s SUV.

On the drive over to Fairview Road, “There was some conversation about a woman I didn’t know that was ‘Bella’s mom,’” Roberts recalled. “And she (Read) said, ‘Bella’s mom never liked me.’ I think Bella lived near Jen’s sister, maybe.”

McCabe previously testified that when O’Keefe called to ask for directions to 34 Fairview Road hours before, she told him the house was near “Bella’s street,” referring to a child who was friendly with O’Keefe’s niece. O’Keefe had dated Bella’s mother years before, McCabe said.

As the three women drove over to Fairview Road later that morning, McCabe mentioned that Fairview Road was near Spring Lane.

“And I said, ‘Oh, where the dance instructor lived.’ John had once dated a dance instructor,” Roberts explained. “And then Karen said, ‘Do you think he could have gone there? Do you think that’s where he could have been?’”

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As they approached 34 Fairview Road, “All of a sudden Karen said, ‘There he is! There he is! Let me the F out of this car.’ And she started kicking the door,” Roberts recalled.

She said she didn’t see anything at the time, but she unlocked the door and watched as Read ran over to “a mound of snow.”

“At some point, I realized it was the shape of a body,” she added.

Roberts teared up as Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally played police dashcam footage from the scene. Choking back a sob, she recalled the moment she realized there was a person buried in the snow. When she ran over and cleared snow from the man’s face, she said she recognized O’Keefe, her longtime friend.

“He had blood coming out of his nose and his mouth, and his right eye — it looked like a golf ball,” Roberts said, adding that O’Keefe was also bleeding from a cut on the back of his head.

‘You’re going to get a DUI,’ Kerry Roberts says she warned Karen Read before search (5)

Roberts started CPR while McCabe dialed 911 and Read attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. She said Read repeatedly asked, “Did I hit him?” and “Is he dead?” Roberts also testified that as first responders carted O’Keefe away, she saw grass on the ground where his body had been.

Later on, Read and McCabe were warming up in the back of a police cruiser as Roberts stood outside, she recalled.

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“At one point, Karen grabbed the front of my jacket and screamed in my face, ‘Are they working on him? Is he alive?’ And I said, ‘They’re working on him. They’re working on him. They wouldn’t be working on him if he was dead,’” Roberts said. “And then she had us hold hands and pray, and then at some point, she had blood on her hands and she told us she had her period. So I think she was just in a state of shock, maybe.”

She said she brought Read with her when she left 34 Fairview Road that morning.

“As we were leaving, she was saying to me, ‘If anything happens to John, I’m going to kill myself. You need to take care of these kids,’” Roberts recalled.

She said Canton Police Sgt. Sean Goode, who had jotted down her number at the scene, later called her and asked her to bring Read back to 34 Fairview Road, as her parents had expressed concerns about her mental health. Roberts said she also spoke with Read’s mother over the phone at one point.

“She said, ‘Please make sure she (Read) does not have her purse. She has medication in her purse I don’t want her to take,’” Roberts recalled. When they arrived back at 34 Fairview Road, she said Read exited her car and walked over to a waiting ambulance.

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Roberts testified that she then drove to Braintree to pick up O’Keefe’s parents and take them to the hospital. Through tears, she recalled the moment O’Keefe’s mother informed her O’Keefe had died.

“And then she asked if I wanted to see him, so I did because I figured it would be better than when I last saw him. Maybe he was cleaned up,” Roberts said. “But it was not; it was worse.”

She testified that O’Keefe now had two black eyes, as well as scratches on his arm.

“He was in a neck brace, and both eyes were huge,” Roberts recalled.

11:10 a.m. update: Jen McCabe testifies about ‘social media witch hunt’ of witnesses in Karen Read’s case

‘You’re going to get a DUI,’ Kerry Roberts says she warned Karen Read before search (6)

Jennifer McCabe, a key witness in Karen Read’s murder trial, testified Wednesday that she and her family have been “tortured because of lies” and harassed “daily, sometimes hourly” amid the online fervor and speculation surrounding Read’s case.

She acknowledged she visited the home of Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor — the lead investigator in Read’s case — in September 2023, but said she went there to commiserate with Proctor’s wife.

“I met Elizabeth Proctor in approximately July or August of 2023,” McCabe explained. “We are two mothers that are being viciously terrorized and harassed by social media. … Things that were stated in this courtroom and allegations that were made have torn our lives upside down. We receive hate letters, letters saying that they hope things—”

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Defense attorney Alan Jackson interrupted her, noting he had specifically asked McCabe why she went to the Proctor home. Judge Beverly Cannone allowed McCabe to finish answering.

“We receive letters. We receive emails. We receive calls,” McCabe continued. “People drive by our house. There was a rolling rally outside of my house where people just screamed at us. They take pictures of our children.”

She cited one incident when someone allegedly took a picture of her daughter and put sem*n on it.

“So that is why myself and Elizabeth Proctor got together,” McCabe said. “Michael Proctor was not home. We are two mothers trying to get through the unthinkable together.”

Jackson asked McCabe whether she was upset about the public outrage concerning her family’s alleged involvement in the death of Read’s boyfriend, Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe.

“I was outraged because I am a state witness that is being tortured because of lies,” she replied.

“Because of public outrage concerning your family’s involvement in the death of a police officer, correct?” Jackson pressed.

“No,” McCabe said. “It’s a social media witch hunt.”

Answering subsequent questions from Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally, she said the harassment began in April 2023. That same month, Read’s lawyers went public with McCabe’s alleged 2:27 a.m. Google search for “hos long to die in cold” and ignited a firestorm of conspiracy theories.

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McCabe testified about the harassment her family has faced since then, including people coming to their home to scream or film video.

“They’ve gone to my child’s sporting events and called me names,” McCabe said. “They’ve written letters to my daughters’ colleges and said that they shouldn’t allow them to play, and then they’ve attached these horrific articles that have been complete lies about all of us. They send me Facebook messages. They call my … home phone and cellphone all hours of the night. They tell me to kill myself. They tell me I’m a terrible mother.”

She added: “It’s unimaginable what my entire family is going through. I go to the beach, they take pictures, they post it. They threaten that there are eyes everywhere; I’ll never be able to live a normal life again. I am a witness. That’s all I am. I am not on trial. I am a witness, and these people are terrorizing me.”

She also recalled a July 2023 “rolling rally,” when around 50 to 75 people came to her house and “caused an absolute ruckus outside.” She said Michael Proctor reached out in advance to give her a heads up, and O’Keefe’s mother took McCabe’s two youngest children out of the house that day so they wouldn’t be home when the rally passed.

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Cannone cautioned jurors that McCabe’s testimony about the harassment is only relevant to her credibility, in that it may explain her conduct or statements.

“That testimony was not offered, nor may you consider it as evidence that Ms. Read has bad character or propensity to commit crime,” Cannone said. “In fact, there’s no evidence before you that the defendant is responsible for that conduct that was described by Ms. McCabe.”

‘You’re going to get a DUI,’ Kerry Roberts says she warned Karen Read before search (7)

‘Babysitter with benefits’

McCabe also testified further about Kerry Roberts, who accompanied McCabe and Read on their search for O’Keefe on Jan. 29, 2022. McCabe previously said Roberts made a statement to investigators that “horrified” her. On Wednesday, she clarified that she overheard Roberts say something like, “John really loved Amy, and in my eyes, Karen was just a babysitter with benefits.”

McCabe also recalled the chaotic moment the three women pulled up to 34 Fairview Road the morning of Jan. 29, 2022. Read, she alleged, knew where O’Keefe was before McCabe and Roberts even spotted his body.

“Was the whole point of that trip, Ms. McCabe, to search for John?” Jackson asked.

“It was, because she knew where he was,” McCabe replied.

“The whole point of that trip was to look for him, correct?” Jackson pressed.

“She directed us to go to 34 Fairview,” McCabe said.

“Yes or no,” Jackson demanded. “The whole point of the trip was to look for John, correct?”

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“At 34 Fairview, where Karen said to go,” McCabe answered.

She testified that she wouldn’t have seen O’Keefe lying in the snow had Read not jumped out of the car and run to him.

“I didn’t know he was there,” McCabe said. “She did.”

Livestream via NBC10 Boston.

Witness Jennifer McCabe returns to the stand in the Karen Read murder trial Wednesday following a combative and testy exchange with defense attorney Alan Jackson.

Throughout nearly four hours of cross-examination Tuesday, Jackson grilled McCabe about her phone records, communication with other witnesses in the case, and prior testimony about Read’s alleged “I hit him, I hit him, I hit him” statement.

Read, 44, of Mansfield, is charged with second-degree murder in the January 2022 death of her boyfriend, Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe. Prosecutors allege she was driving drunk, backed her SUV into O’Keefe outside a home in Canton, and left him to die in the snow.

More on Karen Read:
  • Key witness Jennifer McCabe denies deleting phone calls linked to Karen Read murder trial
  • What Jen McCabe had to say about the fiercely debated Google search, the broken taillight, and Karen Read’s alleged ‘I hit him’ statements
  • ‘Polished, assertive, on the attack’: What to know about Karen Read’s trial style

Read’s lawyers have a different theory: That O’Keefe entered the home at 34 Fairview Road for an afterparty and was beaten, possibly attacked by the family dog, and dumped outside. The defense alleges Read was framed in a massive coverup intended to protect the homeowners’ extended family — a network of Canton residents that includes McCabe.

Jackson has yet to question McCabe on her now-infamous Google search for “hos [sic] long to die in cold,” which has inspired a frenzy of conspiracy theories and online debate. McCabe testified Friday that Read asked her to make the search the morning of Jan. 29, 2022, after they found O’Keefe’s body outside 34 Fairview Road.

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Read’s lawyers allege McCabe’s phone records indicate she made the search several hours earlier, at 2:27 a.m. However, prosecutors maintain the timestamp is the result of McCabe using an internet tab she had opened earlier that morning.

The defense has zeroed in on McCabe’s phone records as they seek to establish that someone else could have been responsible for killing O’Keefe. Jackson asked McCabe Tuesday whether she deleted her cellphone call log before handing the device over to police.

“Absolutely not,” McCabe replied, emphasizing that she turned her phone over “willingly.”

While she said she deleted some texts from “personal conversations” with her daughters after receiving permission from police, McCabe denied erasing any calls with O’Keefe or other witnesses in the case. She also testified that she doesn’t remember calling O’Keefe between 12:29 a.m. and 12:50 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2022, though Jackson pointed to phone records indicating she had made — and subsequently deleted — several calls.

McCabe indicated in previous grand jury testimony that the calls were “butt dials.”

“I don’t remember making any of those calls, so my assumption is I put my phone in my back pocket, and that was it,” she said.

‘You’re going to get a DUI,’ Kerry Roberts says she warned Karen Read before search (9)

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‘You’re going to get a DUI,’ Kerry Roberts says she warned Karen Read before search (2024)

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