Karen Read trial: Brian Albert grilled about cellphone, calls with friend Brian Higgins (2024)


Brian Albert testified that he traded in his cellphone around Sept. 22, 2022 — shortly before prosecutors allegedly informed him that he needed to preserve the phone and its data.

Karen Read trial: Brian Albert grilled about cellphone, calls with friend Brian Higgins (1)

By Abby Patkin

On the stand Monday:

  • Caitlin Albert, Easton, MA
  • Brian Albert Jr., Norwood, MA
  • Brian Albert, Norwood, MA

Judge Beverly Cannone ended Monday’s court session in the middle of Caitlin Albert’s cross-examination. She will return to the stand Tuesday morning.

Karen Read trial: Brian Albert grilled about cellphone, calls with friend Brian Higgins (2)

4:30 p.m. update: Defense says they plan to ask Caitlin Albert about ties to Canton firefighter

Although she was among the group of friends and family who drank with Karen Read and John O’Keefe on Jan. 28, 2022, Caitlin Albert testified Monday that police did not interview her about that night until August 2023.

After an evening at the Waterfall Bar & Grille in Canton, some of the group continued on to an afterparty at 34 Fairview Road, which Albert’s parents owned at the time. O’Keefe’s body was found on the home’s front lawn early on Jan. 29, 2022.


Albert, who was present at both the Waterfall and 34 Fairview Road, confirmed Monday that Massachusetts State Police only interviewed her after she testified before a grand jury in 2023.

She was the last guest to leave her parents’ home early on Jan. 29, 2022, with her boyfriend picking her up sometime between 1:45 a.m. to 2 a.m. However, she testified that she had her head turned toward her boyfriend as they drove away and was not looking out the window toward her parents’ house.

On cross-examination, defense attorney David Yannetti asked Albert about Katie McLaughlin, a Canton firefighter and paramedic who testified earlier in Read’s trial.

“Katie McLaughlin is a girl who I’m … the same age as. We went to high school together. We graduated the same year, and we have a couple mutual friends. We interact with some of the same people socially,” Albert testified. “I can’t think of a time possibly ever where her and I ever hung out one-on-one or individually, so more of, like, a friend of a mutual friend.”

She also said she wouldn’t consider McLaughlin a close friend. When McLaughlin was on the stand, Read’s lawyers sought to emphasize her connection with Albert, though Judge Beverly Cannone blocked the defense from showing jurors photos of the two women together.


After Cannone dismissed jurors for the day on Monday, Yannetti said he plans to question Albert about McLaughlin further on Tuesday. He accused McLaughlin of trying to minimize her relationship with Albert and alleged that she changed her story after learning that 34 Fairview Road belonged to Albert’s family.

Citing a bevy of photos purportedly showing the two women together, Yannetti likened McLaughlin’s testimony to “a suit of armor.”

“We can’t get through it,” he said. “We have the tools and the evidence to get through it. We have the ability to expose her as somebody that’s misrepresented something very important to this court. But if we can’t ask these questions and we can’t get in these photos, then we’re not able to do it.”

However, Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally raised questions about the photos’ authenticity and origin.

“I think it’s interesting that Mr. Yannetti is really vague about where these photos came from or how he knows the specifics that he’s so sure about,” Lally said.

He asserted that McLaughlin’s statements throughout police interviews, grand jury testimony, and Read’s trial have been consistent, if not identical. Cannone said she will make a decision on the matter Tuesday morning.

3:20 p.m. update: Brian Albert Jr. says he saw ‘a dark SUV’ on the street outside 34 Fairview Road

Celebrating his birthday at home with friends on Jan. 29, 2022, Brian Albert Jr. said he looked out the window a couple of times shortly after midnight. He testified Monday that he saw his friend’s brother parked outside the house at one point, as well as another car, “a dark SUV.”


It was snowing outside, and both vehicles were parked with their passenger sides facing 34 Fairview Road, according to Albert. He testified that the dark SUV was parked closer to the mailbox the first time he looked out the window but had inched up several feet the next time he checked.

Karen Read trial: Brian Albert grilled about cellphone, calls with friend Brian Higgins (3)

Albert said he saw some tracks in the snow indicating the car had moved.

“So you’d agree that the visibility and lighting in front of the house was good enough that you were able to see tire tracks in the snow, correct?” defense attorney Elizabeth Little asked.

“Um, sure,” Albert replied.

“But you did not see a 220-pound man lying in the snow in your front yard?” Little continued.

“No, I didn’t see that,” he said.

Albert also testified that he didn’t hear any screaming, yelling, or screeching brakes outside.

He confirmed that he’s spoken about the case with his family before, though he added, “I guess you’d have to split it up and quantify what conversations were about the actual case and what conversations have been [about] the harassment we’ve faced since then.”

Albert said he knew of O’Keefe, who was friendly with Albert’s aunt Jennifer McCabe, but didn’t know the victim personally. He said he used to help McCabe out with carpool duty for his cousins and occasionally gave O’Keefe’s niece a ride.


According to Albert, neither Karen Read nor John O’Keefe entered 34 Fairview Road on Jan. 29, 2022.

2:15 p.m. update: O’Keefe and Read ‘would’ve been welcomed’ at afterparty, Brian Albert testifies

Wrapping up his testimony Monday, Brian Albert testified that cellphone reception “wasn’t great” inside 34 Fairview Road, describing the home as something of a “dead zone.”

Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally turned his attention to Albert’s “inadvertent” call to fellow witness Brian Higgins early on Jan. 29, 2022. Albert previously testified that he was being intimate with his wife around the time of the call.

“Prior to the intimate moment that you shared with your wife sometime after 2 a.m., do you recall whether or not the phone screen was locked at that time? Were you checking that at that particular time?” Lally asked.

“I don’t recall the exact timing, but I know it was opened sometimes and then it was closed, obviously, at some point,” Albert replied. “But I don’t know the exact timing.”

“So the phone may not have been locked at the time that you began that situation with your wife?” Lally continued.

“It may not have been,” Albert confirmed.

He reiterated that he was never aware that John O’Keefe and Karen Read were ever in the vicinity of his home that morning.

“John never came into my house that night,” Albert said. “He would’ve been welcomed — and the defendant would’ve been welcomed — with open arms had they come in, and I wish they had. I really do.”

1 p.m. update: Brian Albert grilled about cellphone trade-in, early morning calls with friend Brian Higgins

Brian Albert testified Monday that he upgraded and traded in his cellphone around Sept. 22, 2022 — one day before prosecutors allegedly informed him that he needed to preserve the phone and its data ahead of a hearing on the matter.


He denied receiving a letter to that effect from the DA’s office on Sept. 23 or 24, 2022, but said prosecutors informed him of the protection order through a conference call with several other witnesses. Defense attorney Alan Jackson homed in on the tight turnaround between the trade-in and the protection order.

“Was that just a coincidence?” he asked.

“Sept. 4 was my birthday,” Albert replied. “The phone was broken and failing. I had planned on getting a new phone, and that just happened to be the day that I got it.”

“Happy birthday. Was that a coincidence?” Jackson pressed, prompting an objection from prosecutors. Albert later denied coordinating with another witness, Brian Higgins, to get rid of their respective phones.

Karen Read trial: Brian Albert grilled about cellphone, calls with friend Brian Higgins (4)

Albert’s testimony got off to a rocky start as he stumbled over his answers to basic questions about speaking with prosecutors and reviewing documents prior to his testimony. He said he misunderstood Jackson’s questions.

Jackson spent much of Monday morning picking apart Albert’s testimony, highlighting discrepancies between what he’s said during Karen Read’s trial and the statements he previously made in police interviews and before state and federal grand juries.

Jackson noted that Albert testified before a grand jury that he had never met Read or spoken to her before, even though he and Read had socialized as part of a group just a week before John O’Keefe died. Albert clarified that Jackson was only citing part of his answer, as he had remembered later on that he’d interacted with Read before.


Jackson repeatedly asked Albert if he was trying to distance himself from Read in his previous statements.

“Mr. Albert, you knew that if you admitted [to] having a relationship with John O’Keefe and Karen Read, you’d have a lot to answer for when Karen Read’s boyfriend ended up dead on your lawn six days later, correct?” Jackson asked in one iteration.

However, Albert was ultimately unable to answer; Judge Beverly Cannone sustained multiple objections from prosecutors as Jackson attempted to rephrase his question several times.

He later pivoted, asking Albert: “So you lied under oath when you said, ‘I’ve never met or seen her before,’ correct?”

“No, because that wasn’t my whole statement,” Albert replied.

“Let’s get this on the record: Did John O’Keefe come into your house at 34 Fairview at any time on Jan. 29, 2022?” Jackson asked at another point.

“Absolutely not,” Albert answered. “I wished he had.”

Jackson turned his attention to Albert’s nephew, Colin Albert, who was also present at 34 Fairview Road after midnight on Jan. 29, 2022. Both Brian Albert and his wife, Nicole, have testified that Colin Albert was leaving the house as they walked in.

Brian Albert confirmed neither he nor his wife told investigators during their initial police interviews that Colin Albert was in the home that night, but not because they forgot he had been there.


“Is there a reason that you left his name out?” Jackson asked.

“Because he wasn’t there — he left when we got there,” Albert replied. “He wasn’t there for the duration of the time that we had that night.”

He further testified that he and his wife were asleep when Read and two other women found O’Keefe’s lifeless body outside 34 Fairview Road around 6 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2022. However, Jackson appeared skeptical that the couple and their dog could sleep through the commotion as first responders arrived at the scene.

He asked about Albert’s basem*nt, where the family kept a weight room at the time. Albert confirmed the basem*nt had a bulkhead door leading into the backyard, and Jackson played a video clip showing the route from the basem*nt to the backyard, through a side gate, and into the front yard near the area where O’Keefe’s body was found.

“Did an investigator or any forensics team ever come into your house, ever, to photograph your entire home?” Jackson later asked.

“No, I wish they had,” Albert replied.

“Yeah, me too,” Jackson said.

Albert also confirmed that investigators never entered his home to search for physical or trace evidence, or to take samples from the carpets or flooring.

Karen Read trial: Brian Albert grilled about cellphone, calls with friend Brian Higgins (5)

Before Cannone called a lunch break, Albert fielded several questions about his phone records from Jan. 29, 2022, and the days that followed. He confirmed he “inadvertently” called Higgins after going to bed on the 29th, but said he didn’t speak with Higgins at the time and did not answer a follow-up call from Higgins soon after.


Jackson pointed out that Albert previously testified he was in an intimate situation with his wife around the time of the inadvertent call. The defense attorney further noted that Albert shared a series of phone calls in the hours and days after O’Keefe died, including calls with members of his extended family, Higgins, and then-Canton Police Chief Kenneth Berkowitz.

“The subject of these calls, Mr. Albert, were all about the fact that John O’Keefe was found dying on your yard, on your lawn, on Jan. 29, 2022. Isn’t that right?” Jackson asked.

Albert said he didn’t remember the subject of every call.

“You had to have been talking about that event,” Jackson pressed.

“Of course,” Albert acknowledged. “It was a horrible situation that was going on. Everybody was distraught, and there were a lot of phone calls.”

However, he denied that the calls reflected an attempt to coordinate with other witnesses to get their stories straight.

Livestream via NBC10 Boston.

The Karen Read murder trial enters its third week of witness testimony Monday with the highly anticipated cross-examination of Brian Albert.

Albert was among the group of friends and family who drank with Read and John O’Keefe at the Waterfall Bar & Grille on Jan. 28, 2022. He also owned the Canton property where O’Keefe was found cold and unresponsive the next morning.

Prosecutors have accused Read, 44, of backing her SUV into O’Keefe — a Boston police officer and her boyfriend of two years — while dropping him off at an afterparty held at Albert’s home on Fairview Road. Read, they say, left O’Keefe to die in a blizzard.


However, lawyers for the Mansfield woman allege that someone else was responsible for O’Keefe’s death, and that Read was framed in a massive coverup meant to protect the Alberts. Several members of Brian Albert’s extended family were present at either the Waterfall or 34 Fairview Road on Jan. 28 and 29, 2022.

More on Karen Read:
  • ‘John O’Keefe and Karen Read never entered my house,’ witness Brian Albert says
  • Chris and Julie Albert testified in Karen Read’s murder trial. Here’s what they said.
  • Karen Read and John O’Keefe were ‘lovey-dovey’ just before he died, witness says

Albert’s wife Nicole, brother Chris, and sister-in-law Julie all took the stand last week to testify about what they remember from O’Keefe’s last night out. The defense team grilled Nicole Albert on the whereabouts of the family’s former pet, a German shepherd with a history of biting other dogs and injuring at least one person. Chris and Julie Albert, meanwhile, faced questions about their local connections and ties to law enforcement.

Brian Albert appeared calm and measured as he took the stand Friday, explaining that he had only met O’Keefe once or twice before the two men met up at the Waterfall that night.

“Although I didn’t know him well, I considered him to be a friend and our relationship was very, very good,” Albert said of O’Keefe. “Cordial, and I considered him to be somebody that I could hang out with and have a good time with.”

He testified that while he extended an open invitation to continue on to 34 Fairview Road, he wasn’t aware at any point that O’Keefe and Read were planning to come over.


“John O’Keefe and Karen Read never entered my house,” Albert said.

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Karen Read trial: Brian Albert grilled about cellphone, calls with friend Brian Higgins (2024)
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