Arboretum victims’ niece speaks out

MADISON (WKOW) -- Investigators believe a pair of teens kidnapped and then shot to death UW doctor Beth Potter and her husband, Robin Carre, according to court records released Tuesday. A court commissioner set bail for both Khari Sanford, 18 and Alijah Larrue, 18 at $1 million each at their initial appearance Tuesday. The teens each face two charges of first-degree intentional homicide.

A woman identifying herself as a niece of the victims who lives out of state asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution. She said she's unable to understand why Sanford, who was dating the victims' daughter, would have killed a couple who took him in.

"You don't have a good life and these two people reach out and take care of you…and then you kill them?" the niece said. "It just…it doesn't add up."

"The AirBnB (Sanford and the daughter were staying in) was paid for by my aunt and uncle," the niece said. "He was staying there. They were taking care of him."

Both Sanford and Larrue made their initial appearances via video conference Tuesday. Early on the morning of March 31, joggers found the bodies of Potter and Carre in the UW Arboretum.

"It leads one to believe the victims were taken alive from their residence in their pajamas and underwear and then shot in the head in the UW Arboretum, perhaps just once, but perhaps more times," said Assistant District Attorney William Brown.

The niece said Sanford had been living with his girlfriend, who 27 News is not identifying as she hasn't been arrested or charged, since December. According to the complaint, Potter asked Sanford and her daughter to move out of the home because they were "not following Potter and Carre's social distancing rules due to concerns on the coronavirus."

Potter and Carre then paid for Sanford and their daughter to stay in an AirBnB rental home. The teens were given a white van; investigators said that same van was captured by city and private surveillance cameras circling the victims' home the night of their murder. The complaint states cell phone records placed Larrue in the same location of the van throughout that night.

"It is believed Mr. Larrue was recruited or brought along by Mr. Sanford to participate in this crime, which was likely a burglary that turned into a kidnapping and then a homicide," said Brown.

Support for Khari

During the hearing, the public defendants appointed to defend Sanford asked the commissioner for bond less than $1 million. They cited Sanford's status as a high school senior who had applied for college and a teen who has mentors in the community who would keep him accountable in the days leading up to the trial.

Court Commissioner Jason Hanson acknowledged the support Sanford may have, but said the seriousness of the charges supersedes all other considerations.

"This case is one where he's alleged to be a high school senior, very involved in social activities and having those connections," Hanson said. "He's also alleged to have kidnapped and murdered two people by shooting them in the head."

Seeking possible motives

The complaint noted the victims' daughter was overheard by another student, when schools were still open, telling Sanford her parents had "bands" of cash in the home. The complaint also states the daughter lied to investigators, telling them Sanford was with her at the time of the shootings. UW Police did not respond to a reporter's request for comment Tuesday.

The niece said whether or not the motive is robbery, another thought she struggles with is that Sanford set out to kill Potter and Carre. She said she has a hard time believing the killings were premeditated.

"Was this just a robbery gone wrong or did they plan to kill them?" she said. "I just can't imagine they did and maybe I'm naive, but I don't know why."

More at WKOW 27 News

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