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A Wisconsin man has been convicted for the murders of his girlfriend's parents, a University of Wisconsin doctor and her husband, at a botanical garden during the pandemic.
After three hours of deliberations on Monday, a Dane County jury found Khari Sanford, 20, guilty of two counts of first-degree intentional homicide for the 2020 slayings of Dr. Beth Potter, 52, and her husband Robin Carre, 57, local outlet NBC 15 reports.
A passerby jogging at the University of Wisconsin’s Arboretum discovered the couple in a ditch, a spokesperson for the university police previously confirmed to Oxygen.com. They had been shot in the back of the head and were wearing only night clothes, according to the Associated Press.
Before the murders, tension had been growing between Sanford, who was dating Miriam Carre, and his victims. Sanford was upset with coronavirus restrictions that Potter wanted him to follow while he was living in their house, according to the AP. Potter then moved her daughter and Sanford into an Airbnb because she was at a higher risk of contracting the virus.
During the trial, jurors heard how Sanford felt slighted by his girlfriend's parents and thought they didn't respect him.
“They were living in fear of COVID,” Dane County Assistant District Attorney Tim Verhoff told jurors during closing arguments, referring to the slain couple, according to the Associated Press. “They should have been living in fear of Khari Sanford.”
Ali’jah Larrue, Sanford’s friend, pleaded guilty to felony murder last year. He was with Sanford when the couple was kidnapped but claimed he didn’t know beforehand that Sanford planned to kill them.
Prosecutors say that Sanford kidnapped the couple at gunpoint from their Madison home before taking them to the UW Arboretum to shoot them in the head. Larrue was a key witness for the prosecution in Sanford’s trial; he claimed that Sanford ordered him to drive Carre's car, which was used during the crime and which the victims had loaned to their killer.
Before jurors came to a decision on Monday, Sanford stated that he would not be testifying. Judge Ellen Berz also stated Sanford had been “acting out” in a violent matter toward deputies, according to NBC 15.
Sanford now faces a life sentence in prison; an upcoming hearing will determine if he will be eligible for the possibility of parole, according to NBC 15.
"Our thoughts continue to be with Beth and Robin's family and friends," UWPD Chief of Police and UW-Madison Associate Vice Chancellor stated on Monday. “Today's verdict brings some measure of closure."
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