Jennifer McCabe’s ‘how long to die in cold’ search key Week 4 of Karen Read murder trial starts

Jennifer McCabe is set to return to the stand Tuesday when the Karen Read murder trial resumes at Norfolk County Superior Court in Dedham. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, Pool)

When she got into bed in the early hours of Jan. 29, 2022, Jennifer McCabe said she went on her phone and inquired about a club basketball team her daughter got an offer to play on and texted her husband and “another individual.”

Her phone activity also included a Google search for “ho[w] long to die in cold,” at 2:27, hours before John O’Keefe was discovered either dead or dying outside of 34 Fairview Road in Canton that frigid, snowy morning.

An FBI examiner in an “analysis of the complete forensic image of McCabe’s cell phone” last year found McCabe made the search at that time.

Karen Read’s defense attorneys have argued in pre-trial hearings and documents that the search “decisively implicates” McCabe and Brian Albert, who at the time owned 34 Fairview Road, in O’Keefe’s murder.

The search is likely to be a key touching point when McCabe returns to the stand Tuesday to be cross-examined as the Read murder trial resumes after the weekend and a day off Monday.

That’s because McCabe, who testified on Day 14 of testimony, didn’t bring up looking up ‘how long to die in the cold’ until she said Read instructed her to do so after the two women and Kerry Roberts found O’Keefe’s bloody body covered in snow, a little after 6 am

As paramedics carried O’Keefe to the ambulance, Read told Roberts to go over and check whether O’Keefe was dead, McCabe testified Friday.

“At that point, (Read) grabbed my hands and she said ‘Google hypothermia, Google how long it takes to die in the cold,’” the Canton woman testified. “…it was cold, and my hands were frozen, and I have MS, and I took my phone out while she was screaming and shaking my arm, and I tried to Google how long does it take to die in the cold.”

Prosecutor Adam Lally asked whether the search came up more than once on her phone, and McCabe responded, “I believe I did it multiple times because as I was typing it I don’t know what else was coming up. “She was screaming, my hands were shaking.”

Lally then asked: “Do you recall anything as far as what the search results were? Did you click on anything? Did you get an answer to the question the defendant kind of posed to you?”

McCabe responded: “I don’t think I even got an answer because as I kept Googling, and (Read) kept yelling, and then they were moving John, the next thing I knew we were kind of moving because she wanted to see if “they were working on him.”

Read, 44, of Mansfield, faces charges of second-degree murder, motor vehicle manslaughter and leaving the scene of a collision causing the death of O’Keefe, a 16-year Boston Police officer when he died at age 46.

Prosecutors say that after a night out drinking the pair argued and she killed him by backing his Lexus SUV into him at high speed, leaving him to die in the cold during a major snowstorm.

The defense has developed a third-party killer theory and has alleged a massive frame-up job to expose their client.

Brian Albert, a retired Boston Police sergeant, and his nephew Colin Albert, then a senior in high school who appeared with bruised and cut-up knuckles weeks later, have testified they did not see O’Keefe enter the home that night.

Brian Higgins, a friend of Brian Albert’s who allegedly had a romantic connection with Read, has yet to be called to the stand.

The defense is also likely to target McCabe’s testimony that she noticed a broken tail light on the rear passenger side of Read’s SUV during her cross examination of the witness.

Lally presented Ring camera footage to the jury on Friday, showing Read, McCabe and Roberts frantically running into O’Keefe’s garage to get into his home when they checked if he could have been there.

The footage did not match McCabe’s testimony. “Karen brings us back to the back of the car, and she says, ‘Look, see, I have a cracked tail light,’” McCabe recalled on the stand.

McCabe further testified: “I saw that there were missing pieces, but there was also snow covering it. Karen was screaming, ‘Look, look!’ And Kerry was screaming back at her. It was very chaotic so I didn’t stare in depth. But what I can tell you is I saw missing pieces from the tail light.”

Under cross-examination earlier this month, Canton Police Lt. Paul Gallagher said he saw “none” of the broken tail light pieces police would say they later found at the scene.

Gallagher, the senior officer on the scene after O’Keefe had already been transported to the hospital, testified that he used a leaf blower to gently remove snow from the area other officers told him O’Keefe’s body had been. There, he said he collected six samples of presumed blood from the area and located a shattered piece of a drinking glass.

The defense argued in pre-trial hearings that Read’s tail light was not busted when she dropped O’Keefe off at 34 Fairview Road for an after-party following a night out at Canton’s Waterfall Bar and Grill.

Read and her attorneys maintained in pre-trial hearings that she dropped O’Keefe off at the party and returned home due to stomach problems related to medical ailments from which she suffers.

McCabe testified Friday that Read told her she and O’Keefe got into a fight at the Waterfall, and McCabe added she didn’t understand what Read was talking about when she said she left O’Keefe at the bar.

“I say, ‘Karen, we saw you outside of my sister’s,’” McCabe said. “She told me she didn’t remember going there and then she started yelling ‘Jen, Jen!’ and then she said ‘Did I hit him? Could I have hit him?”

“I honestly thought she was talking crazy,” McCabe recalled of Read. “She was extremely irrational and she told me they had gotten into a fight. “She was just all over the place.”

Karen Read takes notes during her murder trial at Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham last week. (Greg Derr/pool)
 
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