Trooper Proctor admits he ‘dehumanized’ Karen Read in texts


Karen Read was the only person who had motive to kill John O’Keefe, Proctor testified Wednesday.

Trooper Proctor admits he ‘dehumanized’ Karen Read in texts
Defendant Karen Read listens to her lawyer Alan Jackson question witness Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor during her trial, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham. Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger via AP, Pool

Just hours after John O’Keefe’s body turned up on a snowy lawn in Canton in January 2022, Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor said he believed the investigation was cut and dried.

A lead investigator on the case, Proctor testified Wednesday that the motive, means, and physical evidence uncovered during his initial sleuthing all “pointed directly” to the Boston police officer’s girlfriend, Karen Read.

Prosecutors allege that after a night of heavy drinking, Read intentionally backed her SUV into O’Keefe while dropping him off at a house party at 34 Fairview Road on Jan. 29, 2022. Lawyers for the Mansfield woman argue that O’Keefe actually entered the home and was beaten to death, with Read later framed in a widespread conspiracy among witnesses and law enforcement. 

Proctor, they allege, was central to the coverup. 

A frequent target of Read’s defense team, the trooper came under fire again this week for calling Read a “wack job c**t” and “retarded” in private text messages with family, friends, and coworkers. He also faced scrutiny for his ties to the Albert family, who owned the home where O’Keefe’s body was found. Read’s lawyers allege Proctor kept up personal and professional relationships with some of the Alberts while the case was pending, even as he said otherwise in grand jury testimony and statements to the Norfolk County District’s Attorney’s Office. 

On Wednesday, Proctor faced hours of relentless cross-examination from defense attorney Alan Jackson, who pushed the trooper for an explanation of his vulgar insults toward Read and his actions throughout the investigation. 

Proctor: ‘Everything led to Ms. Read hitting Mr. O’Keefe with her vehicle’ 

Hours into his investigation, Proctor had already come to some conclusions about the circumstances surrounding O’Keefe’s death, he testified. Jurors on Monday heard Proctor read from pages of text messages he exchanged with childhood friends the day O’Keefe died, filling them in on the case.

“I’m sure the owner of the house will receive some s**t,” one of Proctor’s friends wrote.

“Nope,” Proctor replied. “Homeowner is a Boston cop, too.”

Jackson asked Proctor to explain his text, which referred to Brian Albert, who owned 34 Fairview Road at the time. 

“Well, he’s not going to receive any s**t, sir, because he had — Mr. Albert, the homeowner — had nothing to do with Mr. O’Keefe’s death,” Proctor replied. 

“And you knew this 16 hours into your investigation? Less than a day?” Jackson asked. 

“Yes,” Proctor said.

“To your satisfaction?” Jackson pressed. 

“To my satisfaction and to all the members of my unit who investigated that day,” Proctor said. He also confirmed he sent another text to friends that night denying O’Keefe had been beaten, an initial thought he had himself.

“So before you ever went to the crime scene, before you ever went into the house, only having interviewed three folks, you had this case nice and wrapped up, didn’t you?” Jackson asked. 

“Yes,” Proctor replied. “Based on the evidence my office uncovered that day, the one shoe discovered at the scene, the one shoe at the hospital, Mr. O’Keefe’s injuries, the broken taillight pieces underneath the snow—”

“Trooper Proctor, I didn’t ask for an explanation,” Jackson cut in. “I asked, did you, in your mind, have this case wrapped up? Was it cut and dry in your mind?”

“Yes,” Proctor conceded. 

Jackson turned his attention back to O’Keefe’s injuries, confirming that Proctor did not observe any wounds below O’Keefe’s neck, including bruises.

“In your experience, have you ever seen a pedestrian who was hit by a 6,000-pound car with no bruises? Ever?” he asked. 

“The pedestrian strikes I’ve seen have been at high speeds,” Proctor said. “Sixty-plus miles per hour. So I can’t recall right now, top of my head, as far as injuries in the past pedestrian strikes I’ve attended.” 

Jackson also pointed to a text where Proctor’s friend asked him if O’Keefe was “frozen in the driveway and she [Read] didn’t see him.” Proctor said he replied, “That’s another animal we won’t be able to prove.” 

“Did you mean by that statement that you were going to pursue this case no matter what the proof might be?” Jackson asked. 

“What I meant by that statement was if Ms. Read backed into Mr. O’Keefe intentionally or not,” Proctor said. 

Karen Read and defense attorney David Yannetti listen during her trial, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham. – Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger via AP, Pool

In another message, one of Proctor’s friends wrote, “I assume you guys are out to make it cut and dry since it involves cops.” Proctor confirmed he wrote in response, “Yeah, but there will be some serious charges brought on the girl.” 

Digging for an explanation, Jackson asked: “So the way that you were going to make it cut and dry, pretty simple: Just pin it on ‘the girl,’ right?”

“Absolutely not,” Proctor replied. “Follow the facts and the evidence from that day on the 29th, and everything led to Ms. Read hitting Mr. O’Keefe with her vehicle.” 

As he answered, Read offered a confident smile and defense attorney David Yannetti, seated beside her, shook his head. Continuing with his line of questioning, Jackson suggested Proctor sought to make the case “cut and dry” because Brian Albert, a Boston police officer, was involved.

“Incorrect,” Proctor replied. “Doesn’t matter to me if the homeowner’s a cop, if the victim’s a police officer. Myself and and everyone in my office [who] investigated this case that Saturday had an overwhelming amount of evidence that Ms. Read struck Mr. O’Keefe. So it didn’t matter to us what their occupation was.”

“We’ll see,” Jackson hit back. “Let’s keep reading, shall we?”

He pointed to a text from Proctor calling Read “a wack job c**t” and asserting that Albert, by all accounts, had done nothing wrong. 

“But sir, you didn’t have all accounts, did you?” Jackson asked. 

Proctor said the information investigators had at the time pointed to Read.

“And ‘from all accounts, he didn’t do a thing wrong’ — that was your decision 16 hours into the investigation, correct?” Jackson asked.

“Yes,” Proctor said. 

“And the other decision that you made, and the other determination you came to was my client, Karen Read, was a ‘wack job c**t,’ right?” Jackson clarified. 

“Yes,” Proctor replied.  

Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor testifies during Karen Read’s trial, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham. – Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger via AP, Pool

Grilled about his comments on Read’s appearance and Crohn’s disease, Proctor acknowledged that his words were inappropriate. Jackson pointed specifically to one text where Proctor said Read has “a leaky balloon knot,” confirming that the trooper was referring to Read’s anus. 

With Read and Yannetti looking on and shaking their heads in disgust, Jackson asked: “You followed that up with the phrase ‘leaks poo,’ didn’t you?”

“I did,” Proctor confirmed. 

“Were you aware at the time that you wrote this that Ms. Read had suffered a colectomy — a surgery, a very serious surgery?” Jackson asked later on. 

“I was not, sir, no,” Proctor said. 

“Were you aware that she had had 10 surgeries in 18 months several years prior?” Jackson asked. 

“I was not aware of that,” Proctor replied. He previously testified on Monday that while “juvenile, unprofessional,” his comments had “zero impact on the facts and the evidence and the integrity of this investigation.”

Jackson noted that integrity involves “being honest and having strong moral principles.” 

“Do you stand by that testimony that you were showing strong moral principles in this investigation, sir?” he asked. 

“In the investigation part, absolutely,” Proctor said. “Through these text messages, absolutely not. They were juvenile and regrettable.”

Proctor and Kevin Albert went out for drinks months into investigation

Jackson noted that Proctor had previously testified in a grand jury proceeding that he didn’t know any members of the Albert or McCabe families. Proctor said he didn’t remember his testimony, though he clarified that he knew Chris Albert — Brian Albert’s brother — and Chris’s wife and son, Julie and Colin. 

Chris and Julie Albert went out drinking with Read, O’Keefe, and others at the Waterfall Bar & Grille on Jan. 28, 2022, though they were not present for the afterparty at 34 Fairview Road. Colin Albert was at the home that night, though Proctor said Albert left before Read and O’Keefe pulled up outside. 

According to Jackson, Proctor testified to the grand jury that he told the district attorney’s office he “didn’t know, didn’t have relationships with members of the Albert and McCabe families.” 

Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor testifies during Karen Read’s trial, Wednesday, June 12, 2024 in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham. – Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger via AP, Pool

“I did not know the McCabes, I don’t know most of the Alberts, and I have little to no relationship with Chris and Julie,” Proctor clarified. “So that’s what I meant by that answer.” 

He confirmed he did not go to any State Police supervisors about a potential conflict of interest in Read’s case. 

Proctor also acknowledged the Canton Police Department recused itself from the investigation because Brian Albert’s brother Kevin is a Canton police detective. However, he testified that he reached out to Kevin Albert to coordinate witness interviews and secure a conference room at the police station. 

Proctor said he and Kevin Albert worked on a cold case together and occasionally socialized. Jackson noted the two men went out drinking one night in July 2022. 

“In fact, the two of you got so drunk that Kevin Albert left his badge in your cruiser and couldn’t find his gun the next morning, right?” Jackson asked. 

Proctor said he didn’t recall their level of intoxication, though he acknowledged he found Albert’s badge in his cruiser the next day and sent him a text. He confirmed Albert replied, “Did I take my gun?” followed by a wince emoji. 

“Which means that you were drinking and driving in your cruiser, right?” Jackson asked. 

“From what I remember, we were down the Cape working on the cold case together and stopped for dinner, had a few beers, and then dropped him off,” Proctor replied. 

Did Proctor make ‘concerted efforts’ to leave Colin Albert out of the investigation?

Jackson turned his attention to Proctor’s texts with his sister Courtney, who was friendly with Chris, Julie, and Colin Albert. As Jackson pointed out, Proctor texted his sister just 10 days before O’Keefe died to ask whether Julie Albert would be available to babysit Proctor’s son. 

“So in fact, your relationship with the Alberts was close enough that you would consider leaving your own child in the hands of Julie Albert as a babysitter, as a caregiver for your toddler?” Jackson asked. 

“I wouldn’t say ‘close enough,’” Proctor replied. “I’ve hired babysitters that I vet out but I don’t know.” He confirmed that he never mentioned his personal ties to the Alberts in any report he’s drafted in Read’s case.

Proctor testified that he provided his sister updates on “newsworthy” details of the investigation, though he denied using his sister as an intermediary to pass information to Julie Albert. Proctor also denied making any “concerted efforts” to keep Colin Albert out of the investigation. 

Jackson pointed to Proctor’s handwritten notes from his interview with witness Julianna Nagel in October 2022, where Colin Albert is listed among the guests at 34 Fairview Road. Yet Albert’s name is conspicuously absent from Proctor’s report summarizing that conversation, Jackson alleged. Proctor explained he excluded Colin Albert from the report because Albert arrived late to the gathering. 

Answering questions from Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally later in the day, Proctor said troopers were spurred to interview Colin Albert in 2023 after Albert became the subject of a third-party culprit theory “that had no evidence to back that up, that he was involved whatsoever.”

A copy of text messages between Trooper Michael Proctor and his sister Courtney appears on a screen during the Karen Read murder trial in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, Wednesday June 12, 2024. – Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger via AP, Pool

‘No one else had any motive’

As they’ve argued their third-party culprit theory, Read’s lawyers have pointed to three men present at 34 Fairview Road shortly after midnight on Jan. 29, 2022: Brian Albert, Colin Albert, and Brian Higgins. 

Higgins previously testified about exchanging flirty texts with Read while she was dating O’Keefe. However, Proctor denied that Higgins had motive or means to kill O’Keefe. 

He also denied avoiding witnesses whose statements contradicted investigators’ official narrative of the case, including a plow driver who indicated he did not see a body outside 34 Fairview Road when he drove by early on the 29th. 

“Did you investigate all potential suspects who would have had the motive, means, and opportunity to kill John O’Keefe?” Jackson asked. 

“Yes, and that motive, means, factored in with the physical evidence, pointed directly at Ms. Read,” Proctor replied. “No one else had any motive. Mr. O’Keefe never went inside Fairview Road.”

“And you got all that, of course, from the Alberts and the McCabes, right?” Jackson countered. 

“Yes,” Proctor said. 

When Lally later asked what he believed had happened to O’Keefe when he made the disparaging comments about Read, Proctor answered: “I believed, based on all the physical evidence and facts, Mr. O’Keefe got out of that vehicle, holding that cocktail glass he walked out of the Waterfall bar with, Ms. Read pulled ahead and then backed into him, struck him with her vehicle, and then left.” 

Proctor: Yannetti ‘spouted lie after lie about me’

During his time on the stand Wednesday, Proctor also denied being “displeased” about the medical examiner’s finding that O’Keefe’s cause of death was undetermined. 

“Would you have rather had a determined finding that it was a homicide?” Jackson asked. 

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to my office,” Proctor said. “We still investigate the same exact way if it’s ruled determined, undetermined, or homicide.”

Jackson pointed out that Proctor previously testified to a grand jury that he had “never really seen that before,” where the medical examiner could not determine the manner of death in a murder case. 

At Jackson’s prompting, Proctor also confirmed that investigators seized Read’s SUV more than an hour earlier than noted in several affidavits. Proctor explained he incorrectly transcribed the time, then inadvertently copied the error in subsequent documents. 

Later, Lally asked Proctor about the hostility he voiced toward Yannetti in a text to State Police colleagues on Aug. 17, 2022. 

“Well, basically he stood up in open court and spouted lie after lie about me, called me ‘corrupt’ and ‘conflicted,’ dragged my name through the mud after I spent 10 plus years without a single complaint filed against me,” Proctor explained. “And he had no basis and no facts for these wild accusations, because there are none. This investigation was done with the utmost integrity, not just by me, but my supervisors and other troopers in my office.”

He also accused Yannetti of showing up at his sister’s school with another witness and a private investigator on Tuesday, prompting an interruption from Jackson. After a private conversation with the lawyers, Judge Beverly Cannone struck Proctor’s answer from the record. 

Attorney Alan Jackson questions Trooper Michael Proctor about text messages to his sister during the Karen Read murder trial in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, Wednesday June 12, 2024. – Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger via AP, Pool

‘Shame on you, sir’

As Jackson wrapped up his cross-examination, he asked whether Proctor considered Read an “outsider” or treated her differently than the Alberts and McCabes. Proctor said he didn’t. 

“Did you develop some sort of hatred for Ms. Read at any point in your investigation?” Jackson asked. 

“Again, we followed the facts and evidence, which showed Ms. Read hit Mr. O’Keefe with her vehicle,” Proctor replied. “And yes, at times I got emotional because of that and I said some stuff, texted some things I shouldn’t have, but it was based off the evidence.”

Jackson pointed to a text Proctor sent his sister on Feb. 4, 2022: “Hopefully she kills herself.” Proctor confirmed he was referring to Read, though he claimed he was using a “figure of speech.”  

“My emotions got the best of me based on the fact that Ms. Read hit Mr. O’Keefe with her vehicle and left him to die on the side of the road,” Proctor explained. “So my emotions got the best of me with that figure of speech.” 

Jackson read through a list of Proctor’s derogatory comments toward Read, prompting him to confirm each name and insult he used. 

“Would you agree, Trooper Proctor, that you have dehumanized Karen Read during the course of your investigation with comments and words like this?” Jackson asked. 

“I would say based off that language, yes,” Proctor admitted.

Jackson suggested it would be “far easier” for Proctor to pin O’Keefe’s death on Read, “who’s just a ‘wack job c**t,’ in your words, who you hope ‘just kills herself.’” Cannone sustained an objection from prosecutors, preempting Proctor’s answer. 

“Shame on you, sir,” Jackson said after a beat, earning an admonishment from the judge.

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