A Wisconsin judge ruled on Thursday there was sufficient evidence to have two 18-year-old men tried for murder in the execution-style slayings of a University of Wisconsin doctor and her husband,
Madison prosecutors were able to show that there was probable cause to charge Khari Sanford and Ali’Jah Larrue with first-degree murders for the March 30 shooting deaths of Dr. Beth Potter and Robin Carre, who were found unresponsive and covered in blood in the University of Wisconsin Arboretum.
Both suspects wearing face masks appeared at the preliminary hearing held via teleconference because of the coronavirus outbreak from separate cells at Dane County Public Safety Jail. Circuit Court Judge Ellen Berz entered not-guilty pleas on their behalf.
A Wisconsin judge on Thursday ordered Khari Sanford (left) and Ali’Jah Larrue (right), both 18, to trial on first-degree murder charges in the killings of Dr Beth Potter and Robin Carre
Dr. Beth Potter, 52 and her husband Robin Carre, 57, were found dead in an arboretum in Madison on March 31
A jogger found the bodies of the husband and wife at the University of Wisconsin’s arboretum, a research and popular recreational area. Pictured: Police at the scene were the couple’s bodies were found
Sanford had been living with Dr. Potter, 52, and her husband, 57, and was dating their adopted daughter, Miriam ‘Mimi’ Potter Carre.
According to a criminal complaint, Potter told a friend just hours before her death that she and her husband had moved their daughter and her boyfriend out of their $600,000 home and into an Airbnb apartment because the young couple were not following social distancing rules.
University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Detective Peter Grimyser testified during Thursday’s hearing that on the night of March 30, Sanford and his suspected accomplice, Larrue, who went by the nickname ‘Huncho,’ took Potter and Carre from their home, drove them in the white Volkswagen minivan the couple had lent to their daughter to the arboretum, where Sanford allegedly shot both victims in the head, reported Madison State Journal.
Mimi Potter Carre, 18, the daughter of the slain couple, was dating and living with Khari Sanford
According to the detective, Carre had only a pair of boxer shorts on and his wife was wearing pajamas and socks, but no shoes.
By the time a jogger found them the next morning, Carre had died of his injuries. Potter was still clinging to life, but she succumbed to her wounds after being taken to a hospital.
Grimyser said Investigators used GPS data from Larrue’s phone and surveillance footage to track the movements of the white Volkswagen minivan on the night of the murders.
A classmate of Mimi and Sanford identified as DF said he had heard them talk about money before school was suspended in March.
‘DF reported hearing Miriam tell Khari Sanford that her parents had “bands” of money and that they were rich, the complaint said.
‘DF reported that “bands” likely meant thousands of dollars in cash.’
DF also told cops that Sanford had asked him to hide a gun after the shooting, but he had refused.
A picture of Sanford pointing what cops believe is a Glock handgun at the camera was found on his phone
He said Sanford had stopped by his house the day after the shootings, sweating excessively and appearing ‘somewhat excited and frantic.’
While there he made a phone call to his alleged accomplice Larrue, saying he had heard on social media that one of the victims was still alive, saying ‘I swear I hit them, how did they survive?’
He said Sanford said he had shot his girlfriend’s parents in the back of the head, although media reports at the time had not included that detail.
Police said text messages recovered from Potter Carre’s phone also put Larrue in the company of Sanford shortly after the shootings.
Sanford’s attorney, Andrew Martinez, said no evidence was presented before the court that ties his client to the white minivan or the gun used in the killings, and his dismissed the suspect’s alleged admission as not credible.
Larrue’s attorney, Michael Covey, argued that his client was not involved in the commission of the crime, and he got the detective to say on the record that there is nothing to suggest he was the shooter.
Covey further said that it is a ‘thin case’ with many unanswered questions.
This isn’t Sanford’s first run in with the law. Sanford was charged with felony auto theft last year when he lived in the Madison suburb of Middleton
‘The key part to this case is they are relying on the GPS data that doesn’t put [Larrue] in the crime scene, it just puts him the approximate area,’ said Covey, according to ABC News. ‘It’s logic that Larrue was hiding or trying not to be involved or telling Sanford to stop what he was doing.’
Dane County Deputy District Attorney Matthew Moeser pushed back against Covey’s arguments, saying there is strong circumstantial evidence that Larrue played a role in the slayings.
‘Mr. Covey is suggesting essentially that [Larrue] was just an innocent bystander,’ Moeser said, adding that there is no evidence that the 18-year-old did anything to stop or prevents the murders, or that he was hiding out of fear.
Sanford and Larrue remain in the county jail on $1million bond each. If convicted as charged, they face life in prison.
Potter and Carre’s daughter has not been charged in connection to the killings.
Mimi — referred to in court papers by her real name Miriam — confirmed to cops that her parents had moved her out because she did not want to self-quarantine during the coronavirus crisis.
‘Miriam reported that her father had been self-quarantining himself for the past several weeks,’ the criminal complaint said.
She said Sanford had been living at the family’s $600,000 home near the university for the past two weeks. She and Sanford were both seniors at Madison West High School, close to the family home. Sanford was a receiver on the school football team.
‘Miriam said that she loved her boyfriend, and she was extremely loyal to him,’ the complaint, prepared by officers of the University Police Department, said.