‘ I DID NOT MUR­DER NAILAH’

Con­victed killer Potts main­tains in­no­cence at sen­tenc­ing

Chicago Sun-Times - - CITY BEAT - BY RUM­MANAHUS­SAIN Staff Reporter Email: rhus­sain@ sun­times. com Twit­ter: @ rum­manahus­sain

Con­victed killer Regi­nald Potts Jr. staunchly main­tained his in­no­cence Fri­day as pros­e­cu­tors asked a Cook County judge to sen­tence Potts to life with­out pa­role for bru­tally mur­der­ing his ex­girl­friend, Nailah Franklin.

“I did not stalkNailah. I did not mur­der Nailah. Pe­riod,” Potts, 38, said as his week­long sen­tenc­ing wound down be­fore Judge Thomas Gainer Jr. “I am­not amon­ster.”

Potts, a nine- time con­victed felon, said a lengthy sen­tence wouldn’t break him but would give him a chance to prove his in­no­cence.

“I’m not go­ing to be in any­one’s jail rot­ting away, suf­fer­ing,” a be­spec­ta­cled Potts said, his voice crack­ing.

The for­mer real es­tate in­vestor asked Gainer for mercy — not for for­give­ness — but in the in­ter­est of com­pas­sion and his fam­ily.

“I can’t ask for for­give­ness for some­thing I didn’t do,” said Potts, wear­ing a navy blue suit.

While Potts said he did not kill the pop­u­lar phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal rep, he did not ad­dress ev­i­dence, such as cell­phone records that showed his and Franklin’s phone ping­ing off the same tow­ers in key lo­ca­tions at hours linked to the Septem­ber 2007 crime.

Gainer is ex­pected to sen­tence Potts on Tues­day.

As­sis­tant Pub­lic De­fender Crys­tal Marchi­giani re­minded the judge that he must stick with sen­tenc­ing Potts for Franklin’s mur­der — not the pre­vi­ous crimes and al­leged mis­deeds the pros­e­cu­tion’s wit­nesses de­tailed dur­ing the last five days.

As As­sis­tant State’s At­tor­ney Maria McCarthy called Potts a “poster child” for some­one who needs to be be­hind bars for the rest of his life, Marchi­giani asked Gainer for a sen­tence of 20 to 60 years.

Some of Franklin’s friends and rel­a­tives left the court­room a few sec­onds af­ter Potts stood up and spoke for nearly 40 min­utes, gush­ing about his lov­ing fam­ily, the num­ber of law en­force­ment of­fi­cials he’s re­lated to, his ded­i­ca­tion to his chil­dren and the many women he’s dated.

Potts said he knew Franklin’s fam­ily would find his words “hol­lowed” but he said he un­der­stood Franklin’s mother’s grief.

Potts, how­ever, was adamant that Franklin was never his girl­friend— just a fling — who jok­ingly called him “crookie” be­cause she knew about his rap sheet.

Potts con­tin­u­ally blamed the me­dia for paint­ing him as a crazed stalker who am­bushed the 28- year- old Franklin at her Univer­sity Vil­lage apart­ment, as­phyx­i­ated her and dumped her body near his brother- in- law’s va­can­tCalumet City video store be­cause she broke up with him and told oth­ers about his check­ered past.

Potts ad­mit­ted that he stole lux­ury cars as a “mis­chievous” young man be­cause he was at­tracted to the finer things in life. But he de­nied beat­ing jail guards, his ex- wife and for­mer girl­friends.

As a man with five sis­ters, he said he is not “ag­gres­sive” to­ward women or a “de­monic” in­di­vid­ual.

“I speak my mind. I’m not a vi­o­lent per­son,” he said.

Ear­lier Fri­day, McCarthy pointed out to Gainer that Potts’ sen­tenc­ing hear­ing has been a warped ver­sion of the old tele­vi­sion se­ries “This is Your Life” as vic­tim af­ter vic­tim re­counted the pain and an­guish Potts caused with his vi­o­lence and de­ceit.

McCarthy brushed off let­ters from Potts’ fam­ily that were read in court, de­scrib­ing him as a “role model,” “good per­son” and “al­tru­is­tic.”

Ei­ther his rel­a­tives don’t know him or they are ly­ing about Potts, who has spent all but four years be­hind bars since 1997, McCarthy said.

For roughly an hour, McCarthy de­tailed how Potts, a pur­ported gang mem­ber, dealt drugs, swin­dled real es­tate col­leagues, phys­i­cally as­saulted women and cops and drafted fake subpoe­nas and court or­ders while in jail.

The pros­e­cu­tor called Potts a “so­ciopath” and “nar­cis­sis­tic,” say­ing other peo­ple ex­ist solely to be “used by him.”

“He lies as eas­ily as he breathes about any­thing, no mat­ter how stupid,” McCarthy said. “If he tells you what time it is, you bet­ter check your watch.”

McCarthy re­peat­edly men­tioned the catch­phrase Potts used on those he ma­nip­u­lated and threat­ened: “Do you know who I am?”

To­ward the end of her ar­gu­ments, McCarthy glared at Potts and hissed, “We now know who you are. You are noth­ing.”

| AN­TO­NIO PEREZ/ CHICAGO TRIBUNE/ POOL( POTTS); COUR­TESY OF BRENNA HER­NAN­DEZ/ AP FILE ( FRANKLIN)

Regi­nald Potts Jr. ( above, shown at his week­long sen­tenc­ing hear­ingWed­nes­day) de­nied on Fri­day that he killed Nailah Franklin ( in­set).

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