Judge Orders Buffer Zone to Protect Jurors in Murder Trial

In a bid to safeguard the integrity of the upcoming murder trial of Karen Read, Judge Beverly Cannone has ordered a 200-foot buffer zone around the Norfolk Superior Court. The decision comes in response to concerns about potential outside influences on the jurors. Demonstrators have previously disrupted proceedings by shouting at witnesses and displaying signs proclaiming Read’s innocence or challenging contested evidence.

Judge Cannone emphasized the importance of ensuring a fair trial for the defendant, stating that the court must minimize the risk of exposing witnesses and jurors to external influences. However, she also deemed the prosecutors’ request for a buffer zone of 500 feet as excessive.

Karen Read, 44, stands accused of killing her boyfriend, Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe, in January 2022. Prosecutors allege that Read intentionally struck O’Keefe with her SUV and left him for dead after a night of drinking. In contrast, Read’s defense team claims she was framed as part of a larger cover-up orchestrated by law enforcement and witnesses.

Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally argued that the buffer zone was necessary to protect the jurors’ freedom to perform their civic duty without extraneous influence. Lally clarified that the request was not aimed at limiting demonstrators’ rights to protest, but rather to ensure a fair and impartial jury.

The buffer zone request faced opposition from individuals planning to demonstrate during Read’s trial, who argued that it infringed upon their First Amendment rights. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts also weighed in, asserting that any restrictions on free speech, expression, and assembly must be narrowly tailored.

Read’s defense attorneys refrained from taking an official stance on the buffer zone request, stating that they do not control the protesters. They maintained their focus on winning the case inside the courtroom.

Under Judge Cannone’s ruling, demonstrations will be prohibited within 200 feet of the Norfolk Superior Court complex during Read’s trial, including the adjacent parking area. Protesters are also barred from using audio-enhancing devices such as megaphones or bullhorns. Inside the courthouse, individuals are prohibited from wearing or displaying clothing, buttons, photographs, or insignia related to the case or any trial participant. Law enforcement officers attending or testifying in the trial are also prohibited from wearing their department-issued uniforms or police emblems inside the courthouse.

During the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Lally announced that Bode Laboratory, based in Virginia, had generated a partial DNA profile from a hair sample found on Read’s car. However, further testing and comparison with O’Keefe’s DNA are pending, leaving the timeline for a final report uncertain. Judge Cannone stated that she would consider a motion to exclude any evidence from the hair sample’s DNA testing due to the impending trial date.

Author: CrimeDoor

1 Response

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