The judge confirms the absence of “Turtleboy” Aidan Kearney

Turtle boy Aidan Kearney

Aidan Kearney, author of the Turtleboy blog and lawyer for accused murderer Karen Read, was charged with witness intimidation on Wednesday. During an arraignment, a judge banned him from having contact with the witnesses he is accused of intimidating. (WFXT/YouTube)

A judge in Massachusetts has ruled that a blogger named Turtleboy, who is accused of witness intimidation for his coverage of the Karen Read murder case, can attend court hearings but otherwise stay away from or contact the witnesses he is accused of harassing.

Blogger Aidan Kearney is charged with witness intimidation, unlawful picketing to influence a witness and conspiracy to intimidate a witness. Kearney, 41, has advocated for the release of Read, who is accused of running over her husband, Boston police officer John O’Keefe, and leaving her dead outside a Canton home in January 2022. Authorities allege that Read and O’Keefe, 46, had been drinking for a night when they went to a co-worker’s house. In the middle of a snowstorm, Read is accused of running over O’Keefe after she dropped him off at home. Hours later he was found unresponsive and taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

She is charged with second-degree murder and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and is awaiting trial. Kearney has argued in blog posts and YouTube videos that Read is innocent and that the people in the officer’s home were responsible for his death with law enforcement covering it up, a theory also supported by Read’s defense team. He says the people police say are witnesses are actually suspects.

During the course of his coverage of the case, Kearney reportedly organized caravans of 100 cars to drive past the homes of witnesses, calling them “cop killers” over loudspeakers and urging people to call a restaurant owned by one of the witnesses and order food but don’t pay. Kearney also appeared at a high school sporting event for one of the witnesses’ children. He proudly wrote about the incident on his blog and said he was kicked out because he kept calling the witness a cop-killer.

Kearney’s lawyers asked the Norfolk Supreme Court to overturn the no-contact and stay-away orders, saying they violated his First Amendment right to report on the case as a journalist. But Judge Peter B. Krupp in his 22-page judgment denied that request, writing that Kearney’s actions went far beyond what is protected by the First Amendment.

“Journalism is generally about interviewing sources who might be witnesses in a case, not trying to get witnesses to change their statements or inciting others to pressure witnesses to change their statements change,” Krupp wrote. “The defendant has no license to intimidate or harass witnesses and jeopardize the integrity of the judicial process in the name of journalism. For another citizen, such actions would not be tolerated.”

Krupp wrote that claiming that Kearney took a pro-Read position would “understate the extent of his partisanship and advocacy.” Kearney in one piece Boston Magazine said Read is “completely innocent” and described the people he believes are responsible for O’Keefe’s death as “useless maggots.”

“However, the constitutional guarantees of free speech and the free press do not protect ‘advocacy’ that is ‘aimed at inciting or bringing about imminent unlawful acts and is capable of inciting or bringing about such acts,” Krupp wrote.

John O'Keefe and Karen Read. (Images via BPD portrait or WBZ-TV screengrab.)

John O’Keefe and Karen Read. (Images via BPD portrait or WBZ-TV screengrab.)

Olly Dawes

Olly Dawes is a Nytimas U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Olly Dawes joined Nytimas in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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