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 ex-girlfriend, Nailah Franklin.
“I did not stalk Nailah. I did not murder Nailah. Period,” Potts, 38, said as his week-long sentencing wound down before Judge Thomas Gainer Jr. “I am not a monster.”
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 vacant Calumet 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.”