Blogger ‘Turtleboy’ faces criminal charges in Massachusetts in First Amendment fight

A controversial Massachusetts writer known as “Turtleboy” faces several criminal charges, including witness intimidation, for his outspoken defense of a woman on trial for allegedly killing her boyfriend.

Prosecutors allege that Aidan Kearney sent “harassing, threatening and intimidating” messages to witnesses and investigators in the criminal case against Karen Read, accused of running over John O’Keefe, a Boston police officer.

Kearney has a blog where he covers the case, among other local news, as a reporter. He has also been outspoken at protests defending Read, but prosecutors allege his activism crossed a line.

His attorney told the judge that his client “vehemently denies” the allegations as Kearney pleaded not guilty, saying his client’s opinions are protected by the First Amendment.

Kearney was handcuffed and flanked by two court officials as he listened to Norfolk County prosecutors detail the allegations against him during a 45-minute court appearance Wednesday.

The prosecutor alleged that Kearney would “show up” at witnesses’ children’s sporting events and “make scenes,” harassing and photographing witnesses at their homes and jobs, and instructing followers of his blog to do the same.

The prosecutor read some of Kearney’s posts he allegedly wrote on his blog, which include more than 160 entries about the alleged cover-up in Read’s murder trial, as well as YouTube video segments filled with profanity and messages allegedly including “threats to witnesses and their friends.”

Prosecutors detailed specific allegations for more than 30 minutes.

Kearney’s attorney identified his client as a “journalist who has a right to cover a story” during a court appearance Wednesday.

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Aidan Kearney, also known as Turtleboy, wears a sweatshirt that says “Free Karen Read” during his arraignment on charges of witness intimidation in connection with the Read murder case in Stoughton District Court. Boston Globe via Getty Images

“When I read the statements that the prosecution read, I see opinions. “I don’t see threats,” Kearney’s attorney said in court. “If any of his statements violated YouTube policy, they could have removed all of them.”

Kearney was released on personal recognizance with the requirement that he have no contact with anyone connected to the Read murder case, including Massachusetts State Police investigators.

“Turtleboy” posted a photo on X, formerly Twitter, with his arms raised and a “Free Karen Read” hoodie on after leaving the courthouse.

John O’Keefe, allegedly run over by Karen Read. WBZ

The next morning, he accused law enforcement of intimidation in a tweet.

“Armed men showed up at my house, vandalized it, took my computer and phones, and handcuffed me in full view of my children as they boarded the school bus,” Kearney tweeted. “I’m not to blame for the bullying.”

Kearney faces multiple counts of intimidation of a witness, juror or law enforcement official, as well as one count of conspiracy.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Prosecutors say Kearney sent “harassing, threatening and intimidating” messages to witnesses.WBZ

Background to the murder case against Karen Read

The criminal case against controversial blogger “Turtleboy” has taken on a life of its own, but it is a parallel circus to the murder case against Read, which has become just as wild.

In January 2022, Read allegedly ran over O’Keefe, whom she was dating at the time, and left him unconscious on the lawn of a home in Canton, Massachusetts, a city southwest of Boston.

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She was charged with second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Kearney’s blog had more than 160 entries about the cover-up of the Karen Read case. Boston Globe via Getty Images

But his defense team argued that O’Keefe was beaten in the home’s basement after being dropped off at the home that at the time belonged to fellow Boston police officer Brian Albert, and that the family dog, a German shepherd attacked him and injured his right arm.

Kearney told Fox News Digital in an for asking”. the questions that won’t.

“It is a sad day for America when our police force is used as a weapon against journalists to protect cop killers.”

Kearney says it “says a lot” that prosecutors are spending time charging him with witness intimidation instead of finding O’Keefe’s killer. WBZ

The case has drawn national attention amid defense claims of an alleged wide-ranging cover-up that includes law enforcement allegedly working together to frame Read for O’Keefe’s death, allegations authorities strongly deny. vehemence.

Part of the alleged cover-up is the 22 months that have passed without going to trial, his lawyers argued.

“Any suggestion that we are desperately withholding evidence from the defense because we are afraid of what it might show is simply ridiculous,” Norfolk Deputy District Attorney Adam Lally said during a court appearance in September.

He said evidence continues to be analyzed at a state crime lab.

Kearney says he was handcuffed in full view of his children as they boarded the school bus. WBZ

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“Once this type of round of evidence is completed, we will certainly collect those elements and make them available to the attorneys,” he added.

Read’s attorney, David Yannetti, said during his court appearance last month: “There will be no conviction because the evidence establishes his innocence.

“There is no jury anywhere that will vote to convict her of a crime she did not commit.”

The Norfolk County Prosecutor’s Own Words

Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey released a video message targeting “conspiracy theories” in August while condemning allegations against Michael Proctor, a state trooper accused of planting evidence outside the residence.

Karen Read in court with her attorney David Yannetti. MediaNews Group via Getty Images

“Insinuations are not evidence. False narratives are not evidence,” Morrissey said in the video statement.

“We prosecute people in court and not on the Internet and for a reason. The Internet has no rules of evidence. The Internet does not punish perjury.

“And the Internet doesn’t know all the facts. Conspiracy theories are not evidence.”

The judge ordered prosecutors to complete DNA testing by Nov. 3 and set a two-week deadline for the government to provide information detailing police searches of Canton’s home.

The defense is also seeking video footage from a Nest camera in the home on the night of Jan. 29, 2022, but the homeowner claimed the camera was not set up or recording.

The next reading is due in court on December 8.

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