MADISON, Wis. — A jury has found Khari Sanford guilty in the 2020 shooting deaths of his then-girlfriend’s parents in Madison.
UW Health’s Dr. Beth Potter and her husband, Robin Carre, were found shot and left for dead in the UW Arboretum in March 2020.
Sanford, 21, was charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide with party-to-a-crime modifiers in the deaths of Dr. Potter and Carre. Prosecutors agreed to drop the “use of a deadly weapon” enhancer for both charges on Monday.
He showed little reaction as the jury read its verdict Monday night. Jurors — ten men and two women — deliberated for around three hours before reaching a verdict.
Sanford and his girlfriend — Potter and Carre’s daughter — had been living in an Airbnb rented by Potter and Carre at the time of the murders after months of rising tensions between the parents and the couple over issues like academics and house rules. The daughter, who testified last week that Sanford never told her where he was going or what he would do the night of the killings, is not implicated in their deaths.
A sentencing date has not yet been set. Sanford faces a mandatory life sentence; Dane County Judge Ellen Berz must decide at sentencing if he can become eligible for parole at a later date.
Trial coverage, Days 1-5
Sanford throughout the trial
Throughout the trial, Sanford largely appeared expressionless in buttoned shirts and bowties but was occasionally seen smiling or interacting with his defense attorneys.
He chose not to testify in his own defense, and defense attorneys called no other witnesses. Throughout the trial, his defense of him often had no or very few questions for many of the prosecution’s witnesses during cross-examination.
On the final day of testimony, Judge Berz told the courtroom without the jury present that he had been “acting out” with violent behavior with deputies outside the courtroom. Any misbehavior in court would not result in a mistrial, she said.
During the trial, the victims’ daughter testified after being granted immunity by state prosecutors, although a reason for immunity was not given. In her testimony, she discussed using marijuana.
She talked about stress between her and her parents about academics and mental health, as well as concerns about her then-boyfriend Sanford. He was homeless when they first started dating until her parents de ella finally agreed to have him move in, leading to increased tensions and the couple being temporarily moved to an Airbnb.
Sanford’s alleged accomplice also testified in the case, telling the courtroom he hadn’t known what was going to happen or where they were going when Sanford led the couple’s parents out of their home the night of March 30 and told him to drive to the UW Arboretum. There, Ali’jah Larrue testified to watching Sanford shoot the couple in the head.
Jurors also saw cellphone and surveillance video evidence of Sanford’s whereabouts on the night of the murder and the day following, when witnesses said he tried to use the victims’ debit cards to withdraw cash from various ATMs around the Madison area.
Reaction to verdict
Outside the courtroom Monday night, family members of the victims shared hugs and tears following the verdict.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said the verdict was just and thanked jurors for their service.
“I’m very proud of this community in that we have people who are willing to give up their time – especially in the middle of a pandemic – willing to come in to sit in close quarters, to hear very difficult subject matter, and to take the time to really go through it and come to a just verdict,” he said.
UW-Madison Police Chief Kristen Roman said the jury reached the right verdict in the case.
“Hopefully the verdict today brings a bit of closure,” she told reporters during a news conference Monday night. “It’s been a very long and painful journey for the last couple of years, so hopefully the verdict that was rendered today is the beginning of a healing process for the family.”
Homicide cases on the UW-Madison campus are not common, she added, praising the officers who “sprung into action” to investigate after Potter and Carre’s bodies were found.
While Roman has worked in law enforcement in Madison for a long time, she said this case is one that she will look back on as one of the more difficult cases of her career.
Outgoing UW-Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank also tweeted her thanks to the officers who worked on the case.
Media coverage of case
Prior to the trial starting, Berz banned any audio or visual recordings of proceedings, with the exception of still photographs of Sanford, Larrue, and court officials. She did allow Monday night’s verdict to be video recorded.
None of the trial, including the verdict, was allowed to be live-streamed.
RELATED: Judge bans video and audio recording of upcoming homicide trial
Speaking to reporters Monday night, Ozanne thanked local journalists for their “treatment of the victims in this case.”
“They do a very good job,” he said. “I believe that we’ve had a number of cases, especially one most recent, high profile where national media came in and did not treat victims with dignity and respect and I think that weighed into the judge’s decision (to restrict media coverage). ”
News 3 Now is among a coalition of local media outlets that sought to challenge Berz’ restrictions on media.
COPYRIGHT 2022 BY CHANNEL 3000. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism