DEDHAM, MASS. (WHDH) - Jurors heard a series of voicemails that Karen Read left for John O’Keefe on the morning he died as Read’s murder trial continued in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham Thursday.

The voicemails came during testimony from state police Trooper Nicholas Guarino. Testimony, in turn, came after Judge Beverly Cannone ruled two expert witnesses may testify once the defense starts presenting its case.

After a day of “voir dire” questioning to preview the potential testimony, Cannone did not rule on another potential defense expert, saying she will make her decision at a later date. 

In addition to Guarino, two people who work in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner also testified Thursday.

Read, 44, of Mansfield, is facing charges including second degree murder after prosecutors said she hit her boyfriend, John O’Keefe, with her car and left him to die after dropping him off outside the Canton home of Brian and Nicole Albert in January 2022.

Read’s defense has said she is being framed, saying O’Keefe was actually beaten to death and attacked by a dog during a party inside the Albert home.

Read’s attorneys claim police covered up details and planted evidence to implicate Read in the case. Among allegations, the defense has focused on state police Trooper Michael Proctor as an investigator they say was involved in the alleged cover-up.

Read has pleaded not guilty in the case and maintains her innocence.

Judge issues ruling on defense witnesses 

Jurors were last in court on Monday, hearing from a series of witnesses including Guarino. 

There was a court hearing on Tuesday, but the jury was not present as Cannone heard questioning of the prospective defense witnesses. 

Court was closed on Wednesday due to Juneteenth. 

After a lengthy sidebar Thursday morning, Cannone said Dr. Marie Russell may testify for the defense. Her testimony will be limited, though, as she will be allowed “only to opine on whether the marks on the victim’s arms are the result of an animal attack.” 

Russell is a retired emergency room doctor and pathologist. She will not be allowed to give her opinions on police activity. She is also barred from giving her opinion on what O’Keefe’s injuries are not consistent with, such as road rash or being struck by a vehicle. 

Continuing in her ruling, Cannone said accident reconstruction expert Daniel Wolfe may also testify. Wolfe was initially hired by the FBI as part of an ongoing federal probe into the Read investigation. 

Alongside Wolfe, federal authorities also hired biomechanical engineer Andrew Rentschler. Cannone said she has concerns about Rentschler, saying Massachusetts law is clear in saying he cannot testify as a biomechanical engineer about medical issues. 

Cannone said she will reserve judgment on Wolfe and may limit the scope of his testimony once she issues her ruling. 

In the meantime, she said she wanted to proceed with the trial. 

State trooper continues testimony

Nicholas Guarino on Monday described evidence he saw while going through the cell phones of people linked to the case. 

With air conditioning blasting on another hot and humid day in New England, he retook the witness stand near 9:30 a.m.

Guarino soon discussed text messages between Read and one of O’Keefe’s friends, Laura Sullivan, where Read told Sullivan that O’Keefe had died in the snow. 

In texts, Read said she found O’Keefe at 5 a.m. Sullivan responded, saying she could not stop crying. 

As testimony turned to voicemails, the prosecution introduced one message from 12:37 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2022 — the morning O’Keefe died.

After Read’s phone automatically connected to the WiFi at O’Keefe’s home, she left a message with O’Keefe saying “John, I [expletive] hate you.”

Guarino said Read left eight voicemails across 53 calls between 12:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. Some voicemails appeared to be butt dials or silent. Some messages were very short. Some were very angry.

In one message, Read called O’Keefe “a [expletive] pervert” and told him to “go [expletive]” himself.

Guarino said records show O’Keefe never picked up Read’s calls.

Guarino said he used GPS data from O’Keefe’s phone and found he punched the Alberts’ address into the Waze navigation app at 12:20 a.m. By 12:25 a.m., the phone was at the property.

Guarino said his analysis of the data showed O’Keefe’s phone was stationary in the Alberts’ yard. Because the signal connection is bad at the house, the estimate of the phone’s location, at times, expanded to include the house. But Guarino said those moments only lasted for a few seconds.

Data showed O’Keefe could have been in the house for a brief time, according to Guarino. But he would have had to travel 48 feet-per-second to get from the house to the spot where his body was found.

In his questioning, Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally wanted Guarino to testify O’Keefe was never inside the home. After an objection from the defense, Cannone did not allow that conclusion.

In another victory for the defense, the prosecution wanted to question Guarino about a Google search at 1:27 a.m. on Jan. 29 that prosecutors claim Read did while she was looking for DUI attorneys. Cannone ruled that information could not come into the trial through Guarino.

As cross examination got underway, defense attorney David Yannetti was expected to focus on O’Keefe’s Apple Health data showing him ascending or descending stairs.

The defense has alleged O’Keefe died in a fight in the Alberts’ basement. But Guarino testified O’Keefe was in Read’s car when his phone recorded the ascending or descending movement. He said the movements of Read’s vehicle “fooled” O’Keefe’s phone.

Yannetti finished his cross examination near 12:45 p.m.

Staff from Office of Chief Medical Examiner testifies

Dr. Renee Stonebridge from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner testified after Guarino.

Stonebridge is the office’s director of cardiac and neuropathology. She examined O’Keefe’s brain and said she noted bleeding in the area that surrounds the brain. Stonebridge testified the bleeding likely came from some sort of trauma. She said she saw no signs of a ruptured aneurysm.

“I was able to determine O’Keefe’s death due to acute traumatic injuries,” Stonebridge said. “This is due to some type of trauma.”

Stonebridge soon finished her testimony with no cross examination.

One of Stonebridge’s colleagues at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Irini Scordi-Bello, took the stand after Stonebridge.

Scordi-Bello signed O’Keefe’s death certificate and said his cause of death was a blunt force injury and hypothermia. She left his manner of death undetermined.

“I did not have enough information to determine whether the cause of those injuries was accidental or not,” she said, saying she relies on information from law enforcement to come up with a manner of death.

Scordi-Bello said the majority of O’Keefe’s injuries were to his face and head, with some injuries to his arms. He had bleeding on his upper eyelids, swelling in both his eyes, and a small tear on the right eyelid. Scordi-Bello said he also had superficial scratches to his nose.

In her testimony, Scordi-Bello said she saw multiple fractures in O’Keefe’s skull. She said there was a cut on the back of O’Keefe’s head that led to the fractures. She continued, saying the cut and the fractures were caused by a blunt object.

O’Keefe’s autopsy was conducted on Jan. 31, 2022. On Thursday, Scordi-Bello went through her diagram of O’Keefe’s injuries. Among testimony, she said toxicology tests noted alcohol in O’Keefe’s system.

Scordi-Bello said O’Keefe’s injuries were sustained before he suffered hypothermia.

“They were not immediately lethal,” she said. “This is not something that can cause death.”

Scordi-Bello said she saw no signs of a “significant altercation,” with no bruising to O’Keefe’s knuckles and no broken bones in his hands.

Though Scordi-Bello remained on the stand, Cannone opted to end Thursday’s court session before the jury was set to view autopsy photos.

Defense attorney says prosecution may rest case soon

Two months into the Read case, Read on Tuesday said she is willing to testify in her own defense. But she said she will leave the decision up to her attorneys. 

Defense attorney Alan Jackson said the prosecution may rest its case soon, saying he may begin presenting the defense case as soon as Friday. 

Cannone announced Thursday afternoon that there will be a full day of testimony on Friday.

This is a developing story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest updates.

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