Judge declares case a mistrial after jury deadlocks

“Even though it may seem like she doesn’t have a support system, we are her support system,” said Labelle Freeland, who had been standing outside the courthouse since about 9 p.m.

Supporters gathered outside the courthouse to pose for pictures and chanted, “We’ll be back,” pointing to the retrial.

Supporters of Karen Reed react to the news that a mistrial had been declared. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

2:55 p.m. – The Norfolk District Attorney’s Office says it will retry the case against Karen Reed

“First, we thank the O’Keefe family for their commitment and dedication to this lengthy process. They did not lose sight of the true essence of this case — finding justice for John O’Keefe,” prosecutors said in a statement released shortly after the mistrial was declared. “The Commonwealth intends to retry this case.”

Judge Beverly Cannon set a status conference for July 22 at 2 p.m. in Norfolk Superior Court.


2:50 pm – Read lawyer Alan Jackson’s speech outside court

“This is what happens when you make false allegations against an innocent person,” Jackson said during a brief press conference, with Reed standing by his side.

“The Commonwealth did its job,” he said. “They used state pressure based on false allegations, compromised investigations and investigators and compromised witnesses. This is what it looks like. And, guess what, they failed.”

“They failed miserably and they will continue to fail, no matter how long it takes, no matter how long they try, and we will not stop fighting,” he said.

Reed was charged with second-degree murder. manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol, and leaving the scene of personal injury and death.

She embraced her parents Monday after Judge Beverly J. Cannon declared a mistrial on the fifth day of deliberations in Karen Reed’s murder trial. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

2:45 pm – Read supporters celebrate declaration of mistrial

Outside the courthouse, Reed’s pink-clad supporters cheered amid heavy rain.

Karen Reed’s supporters shed tears as they hugged each other after receiving news of a mistrial in the Karen Reed trial on Monday. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Judge Beverly Cannon declared a mistrial Monday in the Karen Reed murder trial after jurors said they were unable to reach a conclusion after nearly a week of deliberations.

“It would be futile to continue deliberations,” the jury foreman wrote in a note to Cannon, which Cannon read aloud.

“Despite our strenuous efforts, we find ourselves at an impasse,” he wrote. “Our views on the evidence differ significantly. Some jurors strongly believe the evidence meets the burden of proof established in the elements of the charges, which is beyond a reasonable doubt. Conversely, others believe the evidence fails to meet this standard and does not adequately establish the essential elements of the charges.”

“The deep division is not due to lack of effort or diligence, but due to our sincere adherence to our personal principles and moral convictions,” the note further states. “To discuss this would be futile and would only force us to compromise these deeply held beliefs.”

After reading the note, Cannon said, “I’m not going to do this to you guys, your service is over.”

“I am declaring a mistrial in this case. I will come to see you personally in a few minutes. Thank you very much for your service.”


In a note Monday, the foreman wrote that the panel was “deeply divided.”

“Despite our commitment to the duty entrusted to us, we find ourselves deeply divided due to fundamental differences in our views and state of mind,” the jury wrote. “The differences in our views are not rooted in lack of understanding or effort, but are deeply held beliefs held by each of us that ultimately lead to a point where achieving consensus is impossible. We understand the importance of this confession and its implications.”

Cannon gave specific instructions to jurors in hopes of breaking the deadlock and saying they were in the best position to reach a final verdict in the case.

“You must consider that it is desirable that this case be decided. You have been selected in the same manner and from the same sources as any jury will be selected in the future,” he said. “There is no reason to believe that this case will ever be presented to 12 persons more intelligent, more impartial or more competent to decide it than you, or that more or clearer evidence will be presented in any other trial. Taking all these things into account, it is your duty to decide this case, if you can do so honestly.”

The high-profile case was declared a mistrial after eight weeks of testimony that shocked the region and made headlines.

Prosecutors had said Reed, 44, of Mansfield, struck her boyfriend, John O’Keefe, with her Lexus SUV after dropping him off outside a home in Canton in the early morning hours of Jan. 29, 2022. She returned to the scene after a night of frequent driving and drinking and found O’Keefe’s snow-covered body on the front lawn, repeatedly yelling “I hit him” in the presence of first responders.

Reed’s lawyers said he had been framed and that O’Keefe had entered the Canton home, where he was severely beaten in the basement and possibly attacked by the family dog, after which his body was placed on the lawn.

During the eight-week trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Reed and O’Keefe’s relationship was strained and that they had argued fiercely via text message on the day of her death.

Witnesses also testified that Reed’s right taillight was damaged and fragments of it were found at the scene, including microscopic fragments in O’Keefe’s clothing. Witnesses said some of the fragments had O’Keefe’s DNA on them and a hair taken from Reed’s bumper matched his profile.

Witnesses said Reed initially indicated she had dropped O’Keefe off at a bar before changing her story, and prosecutors said cell tower records showed she headed back to the Canton home at 5:18 a.m., about 45 minutes before she returned with two other women where she allegedly found O’Keefe’s body on the lawn. Both women testified that Reed led them to O’Keefe’s snow-covered body in the middle of an early morning snowstorm, suggesting she knew where she was.

The defense had suggested that an ATF agent who had exchanged flirtatious messages with Reed in the weeks before O’Keefe’s death had tried to “convince” her to come to the Canton home for an afterparty. The defense also focused on State Police Trooper Michael Proctor, the lead investigator who had sent a message to friends that police planned to “press serious charges on the girl.”

Prosecutor Adam Lally said during his closing argument that Proctor’s messages, while unprofessional, had no bearing on the integrity of the investigation. He said there was no discussion of a cover-up in Proctor’s vulgar, misogynistic messages about Reed.

“Because it didn’t,” said Lalli.

Reed claimed his innocence through his attorneys, but did not testify at the trial.

Globe staffer Amanda Kaufman and Globe correspondent Austin Birdsell contributed to this report.


Sean Cotter can be reached at sean.cotter@globe.com. Follow him on @KotterReporterJohn R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on @JREbosglobe,



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