He’ll die in prison.
It was as close to an apology as Khari Sanford would come this morning at his sentencing hearing for the murders of Beth Potter and Robin Carre:
“If taking my life is what it takes to repay them, to resolve the grievances of this beautiful family and define justice, I will be honored, your honor. Take it.”
Now aged 21, Khari Sanford will never again be a free man. Dane County Circuit Judge Ellen Berz denied him any chance for parole for the murders he committed at age 18 on March 30, 2020.
“I see no evidence of remorse,” Judge Berz commented. “Not a scintilla.”
The one hour and 15-minute sentencing hearing was emotionally draining. At times, heart-breaking.
Judge called the case ‘inexplicable’
“This is a sad day,” said prosecutor William L. Brown. He detailed Sanford’s Dickensian childhood of poverty, hunger, homelessness, physical and emotional abuse. “It was a horrible childhood by any definition.”
Sanford grew up one of seven children to an abusive mother and an imprisoned father in Chicago. Often locked out of his own apartment.
Given his opportunity to speak, Sanford began: “Mom, I love you. Dad, I miss you.” Wearing glasses, he was rather eloquent. He described “Watching my mother get beat by men. … Forced to grow up and be an adult for my siblings.” Once he even called social workers for protective services.
He was sometimes homeless even in Madison before meeting the Carre-Potters. “That was me standing at the bridge and looking down at traffic. That was me sitting on a cold floor with a knife at my throat. The suicidal football player after practice, wondering where I would sleep that night. That was me.”
Even the car he stole from a foster parent 11 months before the murders was for someplace to sleep that night — the foster parent having left the house locked for a trip abroad.
“He had two personalities,” Asst. D.A. Brown said. “He will speak and sound intelligently when it suits his desires.”
Sanford had long planned the murders and gulled his accomplice, Ali’jah Larrue, into driving the minivan the Carre-Potters had loaned him so Sanford could train his .357 Glock on them.
Asst. District Attorney Brown recreated Sanford walking up the steps of the home in on Rowley Avenue, where Dr. Potter and Mr. Carre had retired for the night. Marching them down the stairs in their nightwear at gunpoint, and loading them into their own minivan, still in their night clothes — the two “knowing they were going to die.”
‘The personification of a nightmare’
The next day, Sanford worried that one of them might survive after shooting each in the head and leaving them to die in a ditch in the UW Arboretum. He had tried to cash out the dead couples’ debit cards. “He was entirely focused on money. Khari Sanford has no remorse for human life.”
"He committed one of the worst crimes I've ever seen." — prosecutor.
Yet Madison gave him “a good deal of community support.” The prosecutor said Sanford had support from his teachers, his varsity high school football coach, trips to scout out colleges. He was awarded an internship in the mayor’s office, elected vice president of the Black Students Union, and was recognized as “an outstanding young leader.”
Roughly during the period when Sanford was sleeping in the stolen van he met Miriam Carre-Potter, the adopted daughter of the slain couple. “She gave me unconditional love” and “introduced me to two beautiful people [who] saw my potential, accepted my adversities, and took me in.”
The victim impact statement from Miriam was less flattering. She said Sanford had brought guns to West high school, where they were both students. “I watched him steal and hurt numerous people.” Even after his arrest on 04-02-22, Sanford threatened her. “Never let Khari out of prison. I’m afraid he’ll come for me some day,” she wrote.
The best of humanity
Judge Ellen Berz: “Beth Potter and Robin Carre both reprinted the best of humanity; the world was a better place with them in it. They gave so much to you, Mr. Sanford. In return for their endless kindness and generosity you killed them. …
"Other people have had difficult and traumatic childhoods — some worse than yours — and they don’t kill people.” — Judge Ellen Berz.
“Despite your glowing words to describe Beth and Robin, you said they ‘treated you like a slave.’ Because they gave you a toothbrush and had you over for dinner! And when Covid started, they wanted you and everyone to be safe.”
Recounting Miriam Carre-Potter’s criticism of her adopted parents as suffering from a “white savior complex,” Judge Berz commented, “They were saviors — in the best sense of the word.”