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Top investigator in Karen Read murder case questioned over inappropriate texts

Mass State Police Trooper Michael Proctor listens on the witness stand during the Karen Read murder trial, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Norfolk Super Court in Dedham, Mass. Read is facing charges, including second degree murder, in the 2022 death of her boyfriend Boston Officer John O’Keefe. (Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger via AP, Pool) Mass State Police Trooper Michael Proctor listens on the witness stand during the Karen Read murder trial, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Norfolk Super Court in Dedham, Mass. Read is facing charges, including second degree murder, in the 2022 death of her boyfriend Boston Officer John O’Keefe. (Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger via AP, Pool)
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Defence attorneys for a woman accused of leaving her Boston police officer boyfriend for dead in a snowbank grilled the lead investigator Wednesday about a series of offensive and inappropriate texts he wrote about the suspect during the investigation.

Massachusetts State Trooper Michael Proctor also acknowledged that he was friends with several witnesses, including the brother of the man who hosted the house party where John O'Keefe's body was found outside in January 2022. The defence also criticized Proctor for sharing details of the investigation with friends and family on text exchanges and for texts in which he appeared to single out Karen Read as responsible for O'Keefe's death less than 24 hours after his body was found.

Prosecutors say Read dropped O'Keefe off at the home of a fellow officer after a night of drinking and struck him while making a three-point turn. They say she then drove away.

Her defence team argues that she has been framed and has questioned law enforcement's handling of the investigation. The text exchanges could raise doubts with the jury about Proctor's credibility and distract from some of the evidence he and other state troopers found.

"Before you ever went into the house, only having interviewed three folks, you had this case nice and wrapped up didn't you?" Read's defence attorney Alan Jackson asked Proctor on Wednesday.

Proctor responded that his text comments were based on what investigators had found that first day, including O'Keefe's injuries, a shoe and pieces of clear and red plastic. Prosecutors argue that the pieces are from a broken taillight on Read's SUV that they argue was damaged when she hit O'Keefe.

Proctor, who first took the stand Monday, acknowledged to the jury that he called Read a series of names including "wack job" in texts to friends, family and fellow troopers. Proctor's testimony came in the seventh week of trial for Read, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in O'Keefe's death.

Proctor also repeatedly apologized Monday for language used in text exchanges, saying they were "something I am not proud of and I shouldn't have wrote in private or any type of setting." But he insisted the comments had no influence on the investigation.

"These juvenile, unprofessional comments had zero impact on the facts and evidence and integrity of the investigation," Proctor told the court.

The defence team jumped on the exchanges, including one where Proctor wrote that he hated one of Read's attorneys. They also noted a text in which Proctor joked to his supervisors about not finding nude photos when he was going through Read's phone.

Proctor denied he was looking for nude photos of Read, though Jackson suggested his response demonstrated bias.

"You weren't so much as objectively investigating her as objectifying her in those moments," Jackson said.

Read's lawyers have alleged that O'Keefe was beaten inside the home, bitten by a family dog and then left outside.

They have portrayed the investigation as shoddy and undermined by the relationship investigators had with the law enforcement agents at the house party. They also have suggested pieces of glass found on the bumper of Read's SUV and a hair found on the vehicle's exterior may have been planted.

Proctor acknowledged in his testimony that he is friends with the brother of Brian Albert and his wife -- though he insisted it had no influence on the investigation and had never been to their house before O'Keefe's death. Brian Albert is a Boston police officer who hosted the house party in Canton where O'Keefe's body was found in the front yard.

Jackson got Proctor to acknowledge Wednesday that he was drinking buddies with Albert's brother, Kevin Albert, who is a Canton police officer. He acknowledged they went out drinking several months after O'Keefe died, worked on a cold case together and communicated about coordinating aspects of the O'Keefe case even though the Canton Police Department recused itself from the investigation due to the Albert brothers' connection to the case.

"You knew that he, above everybody else, should be completely removed from any contact with the investigation or the investigators," Jackson asked Proctor. "Yet when you wanted to coordinate witnesses for interviews in this case, who did you turn to?"

Proctor acknowledged he texted Kevin Albert about coordinating those interviews.

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