Karen Read murder trial highlights Trooper Michael Proctor’s “regrettable” text messages

DEDHAM – Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor, the lead investigator in the high-profile Karen Read murder trial, took the stand on Monday. During his testimony, Proctor read a series of what he described as “unprofessional and regrettable” text messages he sent about Read.

Monday’s testimony ended for the day with Proctor still on the stand for cross-examination.

Read’s defense attorneys accuse Proctor of planting evidence to help cover up for friends who are witnesses in the case. 

Read is accused of hitting and killing her Boston police officer boyfriend John O’Keefe with her SUV after a night of drinking. O’Keefe’s body was found in the snow outside Brian Albert’s home at 34 Fairview Road in Canton the morning of January 29, 2022. 

Read’s lead attorneys, Alan Jackson and David Yannetti, have argued that she is the victim of a coverup involving law enforcement and other witnesses in the case. They argue that O’Keefe could have been killed during a fight inside Albert’s home, then brought outside.

Michael Proctor reads “unprofessional and regrettable” text messages

Proctor first took the stand Monday around 11 a.m. after the jury’s morning recess.  

Proctor read a series of what he described as “unprofessional and regrettable” messages about Read. The texts were brought to light as part of the federal investigation into the handling of the case.

“From all accounts [O’Keefe] didn’t do anything wrong. She’s a whackjob [expletive],” Proctor said in one text message. In another message Proctor told a friend Read “waffled” O’Keefe.

Trooper Michael Proctor
Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor takes the stand to testify, Monday, June 10, 2024, in Norfolk Super Court, in Dedham, Mass., during the trial for Karen Read.

Kayla Bartkowski/The Boston Globe via AP

Prosecutor Adam Lally asked Proctor about the messages.

“These juvenile, unprofessional comments have zero impact on the facts and the evidence and the integrity of this investigation,” Proctor testified. “These are unprofessional comments, but they absolutely did not detract from the integrity of the investigation or the facts and evidence of it.”

In another text message, after Read is indicted by a grand jury, Proctor messages his wife that he is “waiting to lock whackjob up.”

Proctor testified that the text messages, while unprofessional, were made because he was confident in the evidence that had been discovered.

“Based on the day’s investigation, it was clear that Ms. Read had struck Mr. O’Keefe with her vehicle,” Proctor said.

Proctor read a text message exchange with two fellow Massachusetts State Police troopers on June 9, 2022. That was the day while being booked at the state police barracks, Read was heard on body worn camera making allegations that the Alberts were involved in framing her.

“[Read] said the Alberts beat the s— out of [O’Keefe]. She’s gross. F— her. B—-,” Proctor messaged his colleagues. 

Lally completed direct questioning around 3:30 p.m.

Alan Jackson cross-examines Trooper Michael Proctor

Defense attorney Alan Jackson began his cross-examination by referencing text messages Proctor sent about Read’s other lead attorney David Yannetti. Proctor said “I hate that man. I truly hate that man.”

He then said he was going through Read’s phone, which had been seized as part of the investigation. Proctor referred to Read as a derogatory word for a person with disabilities. The trooper responded to Jackson that it was “poor language.”

“Poor language is one way to put it. Completely offensive is another way to put it, right?” Jackson responded, prompting an objection that was sustained.

Later, Proctor read a text message that he sent to his bosses about going through the phone.

“No nudes so far,” Proctor messaged.

Jackson asked Proctor if he was searching the phone for nude photographs. Proctor said he was not and it was a “poor choice of words.”

Jackson also asked Proctor if he was biased early in the investigation.

“In other words Trooper Proctor, you don’t get to pick a suspect, and then try to find evidence to support your choice, right?” Jackson asked, prompting Proctor to say that was correct.

“But in this case, that’s exactly what you did isn’t it?” Jackson asked.

“Absolutely not,” Proctor said. That was the final question and answer before the jury was dismissed for the day.

Read reacts to Proctor’s text messages

Outside court Monday, WBZ-TV’s Kristina Rex asked Read what it felt like to hear Trooper Proctor’s text messages about her. 

“I’ve done nothing wrong. He has,” Read said. “You might want to ask him how he feels hearing that read in open court. I am not ashamed or embarrassed.” 

Trooper Proctor’s ties to the Albert family

Earlier in the day, Lally asked Proctor about his relationship with members of the Albert family. 

Brian Albert is a retired Boston police officer who hosted an after-party where O’Keefe and Read were headed to after drinking at the Waterfall Bar and Grille in Canton. Witnesses have testified that O’Keefe never went inside the home, but the defense claims he went inside and was killed during a fight.

Brian Albert’s brother is Christopher Albert. He is a current member of the Canton Board of Selectmen.

Earlier in the trial, Christopher Albert’s wife Julie was on the stand. On cross-examination, Julie Albert was asked about her relationship with Courtney Proctor, the trooper’s sister. 

“I’d classify it as acquaintances,” Trooper Proctor said on Monday under direct questioning about his relationship with Christopher and Julie Albert.  

The defense says Julie Albert called Courtney Proctor 67 times over the course of several months after O’Keefe’s death, including on the day of Read’s arrest.

Trooper Proctor estimated that over the course of about 10 years, he was at the same functions as members of the Albert family around a half dozen times.

“Zero. Absolutely zero impact on this investigation,” he said of his relationships with the Albert family. 

Trooper Michael Proctor details investigation

Proctor, who is currently under investigation by Massachusetts State Police, denies any wrongdoing. He remains on full duty during the investigation.  

Lally began by questioning Proctor about the day he took over as lead investigator in the case. 

The trooper said the first thing he noticed was O’Keefe had cuts on his right arm, both eyes were swollen and bruised, and he had a cut on his right nostril. Proctor said O’Keefe also had a smaller cut above his left eye.

He said O’Keefe was only wearing one shoe, which can often be a sign of a potential vehicle strike.

At one point, Lally had Proctor hold up the housing area of Read’s Lexus SUV taillight. Proctor was also asked to remove broken taillight pieces from an evidence bag and display them for jurors.

Damage to Karen Read’s SUV

Dighton police officer Nicholas Barros took the stand prior to Proctor for less than 15 minutes. He was on scene when Read’s vehicle was towed from her parents’ home.

The vehicle was towed the afternoon of January 29, 2022, several hours after O’Keefe’s body was found. Prosecutors attempted to show that the SUV was damaged before police had access to it.

“I saw that there was some damage to the right rear taillight,” Barros testified.

He said the taillight was cracked, a piece was missing, but it was not completely damaged. In addition, he said there was a dent “in conjunction with the taillight” in the same area.

Defense attorneys did not have any questions for Barros. 

Inverted video from Canton Police Department sallyport

Before Barros was called as a witness, Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Yuriy Bukhenik completed his testimony. He was Proctor’s supervisor in the investigation.

The cross-examination of Bukhenik left off Thursday with questions about video of Read’s SUV inside the Canton Police Department sallyport. Defense attorneys were in the process of asking Bukhenik about why the video appears to be mirrored, something that was not noted during direct questioning.  

Jackson continued the line of questioning on Monday. 

“Would you agree that this video is not a true and accurate depiction of what you saw that night?” Jackson asked Bukhenik. “Yes it is, it’s just mirrored,” Bukhenik replied.

Later Monday morning, Jackson played a version of the sallyport video that corrects the perspective.

When Jackson concluded his cross-examination, Lally asked Bukhenik if any changes were made to the video from the time he received it to the time it was played in court.

“There was no manipulation of the video between when we received it and when it was played here,” Bukhenik said.

Lally also noted that the sallyport video was recorded after several other videos that the prosecution has argued show Read’s taillight was already broken.

The prosecutor asked Bukhenik did he or Proctor “go near, touch, or manipulate” Read’s taillight.

“We absolutely did not,” Bukhenik said.

Proctor testified the same later in the day, saying “Sgt. Bukhenik and I never touched any part of that vehicle.”

Bukhenik completed his testimony after less than two hours on Monday.  

Karen Read SUV
A photo of Karen Read’s Lexus SUV is shown during her trial at Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, Mass. on Wednesday June 5, 2024.

Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger via AP, Pool

Tense exchange with Judge Beverly Cannone

Earlier in the day there were heated arguments without jurors present over a potential witness who is expected to testify that John O’Keefe’s injuries are consistent with a dog attack.   

Judge Beverly Cannone heard arguments from both sides about potential upcoming testimony, and had a tense exchange with Yannetti. The motion hearing began before jurors entered the room.

The prosecution filed a motion Thursday to exclude the testimony of defense witness Dr. Marie Russell. They also said the defense has not provided necessary information from other experts expected to take the stand.

Read’s attorneys have said for months that scratches on O’Keefe’s arm could have been caused by Brian Albert’s dog Chloe inside 34 Fairview Road during a fight.

The state says they were just notified that Russell would be called as a witness on May 21 and they do not have sufficient time to prepare. 

As Yannetti made his arguments, Cannone interjected and asked him to stick to arguments surrounding the motion. rather than overall issues with the trial.

“This is the hyperbole I don’t need. Can you please get to the point,” Cannone told Yannetti.

Yannetti said the defense plans to call several witnesses who they have not had the opportunity to interview themselves because they are experts hired by the federal government during an investigation into law enforcement’s handling of the Read case.

Cannone said there will be voir dires of each witness this week. That means the witnesses will be questioned by both sides without the jury present.

The judge also ordered the defense to provide a summary of one expert’s opinion by the end of the day Tuesday.

Karen Read
During a pretrial hearing, Karen Read’s defense attorney Alan Jackson shows scratches on John O’Keefe’s arm that he says could have been caused during a dog attack.

CBS Boston

What happened last week in the Karen Read murder trial?

Much of the testimony last week focused on broken taillight pieces that were found at the scene of O’Keefe’s death, as well as Read’s alcohol consumption in the hours before O’Keefe died.

Later in the week, Bukhenik took the stand. He worked closely with him during the investigation. 

Who is Karen Read?

A 45-year-old from Mansfield, Massachusetts, Read is charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter while operating under the influence of alcohol, and leaving the scene of personal injury and death.  

Read is accused of hitting and killing O’Keefe, who she was dating at the time, with her SUV. According to prior witnesses, the couple had what was described as a deteriorating relationship. 

Read has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Karen Read inside Norfolk Superior Court on June 10, 2024.

CBS Boston

What’s the schedule for the Karen Read murder trial this week?

Judge Beverly Cannone has adjusted the trial schedule in an effort to speed up proceedings. Jury selection in the case began on April 16, and dozens of witnesses have taken the stand since testimony began on April 29.

The prosecution is currently calling witnesses from its list. Read’s defense attorneys have not yet begun to call witnesses.  

Full days of testimony are planned this week for Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with a day off scheduled for Tuesday.

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