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Prosecutors: COVID-19 concerns, "bands of cash" played role in double homicide

Khari Sanford (left) and Elijah Larue (Source: Dane Co. Sheriff's Office)
Khari Sanford (left) and Elijah Larue (Source: Dane Co. Sheriff's Office)(NBC15)
Published: Apr. 7, 2020 at 3:02 PM CDT
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One of the men accused of killing of a UW professor and her husband was reportedly told to leave the couple’s home, along with their adoptive daughter, following a dispute about social distancing over Coronavirus concerns.

Additionally, the criminal complaint against both suspects reported a friend of the suspect, identified as Khari Sanford, and the victims' daughter told detectives about hearing the daughter tell the Sanford her parents were rich and she knew how they could get money.

Sanford and Alijah Larrue were charged Tuesday in the deaths of Robin Carre and Beth Potter. A Dane Co. judge set their bonds at $1 million each. They are due again in court on April 16 for a preliminary hearing.

UW-Madison Police say they were found in a ditch at UW Arboretum on March 31 by a jogger around 6:30 a.m. According to the complaint, the medical examiner determined Carre died from a single gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene, while Potter was shot twice.

Emergency crews rushed Potter, who was wearing pajamas when she was found, to the hospital where she later died from her injuries, the complaint noted.

Detectives spoke with one of Potter’s friends who told her on the day before her death, Potter’s adoptive daughter and boyfriend, Sanford, were moved out of their home into an AirBnB because they were not following social distancing rules due to COVID-19 concerns.

Potter’s supervisor at UW Hospital said Potter’s medication put her at greater risk for Coronavirus and that’s why she moved her daughter and Sanford to an AirBnB instead of letting them live in the home.

Detectives interviewed the couple’s daughter who said she was extremely loyal to Sanford. She said since being moved out of her home, two weeks prior to their deaths, her parents allowed her to use their minivan.

Detectives say she told them Sanford and her never left their AirBnB from the night of March 30 to the morning of March 31.

However, detectives reviewed traffic cameras and allegedly found the van was seen several times in the area of Carre’s and Potter’s home the night before their deaths.

A witness told detectives he overheard a phone conversation between Sanford and Larrue on March 31. Sanford reportedly was upset one of the victims was in the hospital and said “I swear I hit them, how did they survive.”

According to the criminal complaint, the witness said Sanford then told them he shot the victims in the back of the head.

UW Police say home surveillance video also showed a white van in the neighborhood near the AirBnB and two people throwing items into the woods. Police found a piece of mail addressed to Beth Potter and a cell phone that was purposely broken.

Appearing via video conference at Tuesday's initial appearance, defense attorney William Brown called the double homicide a "brutal murder," suggesting Sanford acted with intent.

"Probably the most incriminating piece of evidence, which was statements he made to a citizen witness identified in the criminal complaint, that he in fact did shoot the folks involved, and was concerned after hearing on the news that one of them was alive," Brown said. "There is ample evidence to suggest that Mr. Sanford was driving around Madison in the location of the victim’s residence."

Sanford and Larrue are each facing two first-degree intentional homicide-party to a crime charges.