The Jurors in the Karen Read Trial Requested the SERT Report — What Is It?

The jurors requested the SERT report because they are taking the Karen Read trial very seriously.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Jun. 27 2024, Published 12:03 p.m. ET

Karen Read at her trial
Source: Getty Images

The jury in the Karen Read murder trial began deliberating after sitting through legal proceedings that lasted a little over two months. The highly publicized court case has divided a town in half, with some believing she killed her police officer boyfriend while others think local law enforcement framed her.

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CBS News reports that after a night of drinking on Jan. 28, 2022, Read dropped her partner John O'Keefe off at a friend's house. Hours later his battered body would be found in the snow after Read realized he never came home. Later that day, the state police Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) was sent to the home in order to collect evidence. During the jury's deliberations, they requested the SERT report. What is it? Here's what we know.

Karen Read sits next to her attorneys at her trial
Source: Getty Images
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Why does the jury need to see the SERT report in the Karen Read trial?

The jury has a mountain of evidence to go through while deciding Read's fate. During their first full day of deliberation on June 26, 2024, they asked to see the SERT report. According to NBC10 Boston, the jury is probably sorting through the minutiae surrounding Read's taillight. When the SERT was dispatched to the crime scene, they located pieces of a taillight which led them to Read, per Boston 25 News.

The state is arguing that dashcam video of Read’s Lexus SUV recorded two hours after O'Keefe's body was discovered shows damage done to her taillight. However, Read's defense leaned heavily on the fact that it took SERT several days to locate pieces of her taillight at the crime scene. Alan Jackson, Read's lawyer, believes this is because those shards were planted by law enforcement. Police claim the delayed finding of the taillight pieces was due to the snow.

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A photo of the taillight of Karen Read's SUV is shown during her trial
Source: Getty Images

There is no SERT report available.

The only problem with asking to see the SERT report is it was never introduced into evidence, per NBC10 Boston. It's unclear why this wasn't included, but Judge Beverly Cannone was quick to point out the jury had all the evidence in the case. "You won't be receiving any additional evidence," she said.

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Michael Coyne, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, spoke with the outlet about what this actually means. He said the "SERT return —the return from the search warrant itself that police have to file in court — was not part of the evidence the commonwealth offered or that the defendant offered." Coyne then added that "since evidence is closed, they only can use what was properly submitted before the court. So they can't reopen the case to provide that evidence."

Experts agree that this question indicates the jury is taking the evidence very seriously. Without the SERT report, they are left to figure out what they believe happened entirely on their own. This doesn't indicate whether a guilty or not guilty verdict is coming, but it will help form their opinion. If found guilty, the "manslaughter charge carries a penalty of five to 20 years in prison, and the other charge has a maximum penalty of 10 years," via WCVB.

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