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What will judge weigh in sentencing Kim Potter?

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What will judge weigh in sentencing Kim Potter?

MINNEAPOLIS — The former suburban Minneapolis police officer who said she confused her handgun for her Taser when she killed Daunte Wright will be sentenced in February after a jury convicted her Thursday on two counts of manslaughter.

The most serious charge against Kim Potter — first-degree manslaughter — carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. Here’s how her sentencing could play out:

The charges

After roughly 27 hours of deliberation over four days, a jury found Potter guilty of both first-degree manslaughter and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 killing of Wright, a Black motorist. For first-degree manslaughter, prosecutors had to prove Potter caused Wright’s death while recklessly handling a firearm in a way that death or great bodily harm to any person was reasonably foreseeable.

The second-degree manslaughter charge required prosecutors to prove Potter caused his death “by her culpable negligence,” meaning that Potter “caused an unreasonable risk and consciously took a chance of causing death or great bodily harm” to Wright.

This inmate photo provided by the Minnesota Department of Corrections on Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021, shows former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter. Potter was convicted on Thursday of two manslaughter charges in the killing of Daunte Wright.
AP

What sentence is possible?

Under Minnesota statutes, Potter, who is white, will be sentenced only on the most serious charge of first-degree manslaughter. That’s because both of the charges against her stem from one act, with one victim.

The max for that charge is 15 years. But state sentencing guidelines call for much less. For someone with no criminal history, like Potter, the guidelines range from just more than six years to about 8 1/2 years, with the presumptive sentence being slightly over seven years.

Prosecutors have said they’d seek a sentence above the guideline range, while the defense said they would seek no prison time. In order for Judge Regina Chu to issue a sentence that’s outside the guideline range, she would first have to find either mitigating or aggravating factors. Both sides are expected to file written arguments.

Graphic shows the charges and verdict for Kim Potter in the Daunte Wright officer Trial.
Graphic shows the charges and verdict for Kim Potter in the Daunte Wright officer Trial.
AP

Possible aggravating factors

Prosecutors say aggravating factors in Potter’s case include that she caused a greater-than-normal danger to the safety of other people when she fired into the car, including danger to her fellow officers, to Wright’s passenger and to the couple whose car was struck by Wright’s after the shooting.

Wright’s passenger, Alayna Albrecht-Payton, told the court she still suffers from the effects of the broken jaw she sustained in the crash after the shooting. And Denise Lundgren Wells, whose father was in the car that Wright’s struck, said her father had health issues before the crash, but that they accelerated after it happened. He’s now in his 80s and in hospice care.

Prosecutors also say Potter abused her authority as a police officer.

Daunte Wright who was killed by police officers during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
Daunte Wright who was killed by police officers during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

Possible mitigating factors

Defense attorney Paul Engh said the defense would be seeking a “dispositional departure” from sentencing guidelines.

Under state statutes, a mitigated dispositional departure occurs when guidelines recommend a prison sentence, but a judge allows the sentence to be “stayed” — meaning the defendant doesn’t go to prison. Instead, the defendant is put on probation, home monitoring, or possibly sent to the local jail, said Marsh Halberg, a Minneapolis attorney who is not connected to the case. A defendant would be sent to prison to if conditions set by the court are violated.

In arguing that Potter should remain free on bail until she is sentenced, Engh said: “She is amenable to probation. Her remorse and regret for the incident is overwhelming. She’s not a danger to the public whatsoever. She’s made all her court appearances.” Chu was unmoved, and Potter was taken into custody after the verdicts were read.

Halberg said the defense has a lot to work with, because Potter has no prior record and is remorseful. The defense can also make the argument that as a police officer, Potter’s confinement would likely be harsher than most because of the need to keep her safe. The former Minneapolis police officer convicted in George Floyd’s death, Derek Chauvin, has been in solitary confinement for that reason.

In this screen grab from video, former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter becomes emotional as she testifies in court, Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn.
In this screen grab from video, former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter becomes emotional as she testifies in court, Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn.
AP

What will Chu do?

Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines were created to establish consistent sentences that don’t consider factors such as race or gender.

In determining a final sentence, Chu will consider the arguments made by both sides, as well as victim impact statements. She has also ordered a pre-sentence investigation of Potter. And Potter can make a statement at her sentencing hearing — a time when judges are typically looking to see if a person takes responsibility for the crime or shows remorse.

Halberg said it’s unlikely Chu would sentence Potter below the guideline range, saying: “We live in such a politicized climate now for decisions.” He predicted Chu would go above what guidelines suggest, or sentence her to the top range.

“If you stay within the box as far as the sentences being reasonable, it’s a pretty hard thing to argue on appeal,” he said.

In this screen grab from video, Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu delivers jury instructions, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter in the April 11, 2021, death of Daunte Wright.
In this screen grab from video, Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu delivers jury instructions, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter in the April 11, 2021, death of Daunte Wright.
AP

How long would Potter serve?

No matter what sentence Potter gets, in Minnesota it’s presumed that a defendant with good behavior will serve two-thirds of their penalty in prison and the rest on supervised release, commonly known as parole.

That means if Potter is sentenced to the presumptive seven years, she would likely serve about four years and nine months behind bars, and the rest on supervised release. Once on supervised release, she could be sent back to prison if she violates conditions of his parole. If she gets the maximum 15 years, she could be behind bars for 10 before being placed on parole.

Potter was sent to the state women’s prison in Shakopee after the jury returned its verdicts. Nicholas Kimball, a spokesman with the state Department of Corrections, said that in some cases, particularly those that are higher profile, people are transferred directly to the state prison as they await sentencing.

The same thing happened for Chauvin. He went directly to the state’s maximum security prison as he awaited sentencing for murder. He was ultimately sentenced to 22 1/2 years — above the guideline range — after a judge found aggravating factors in Floyd’s death.

Daunte Wright in an undated Facebook photo.
Daunte Wright in an undated Facebook photo.
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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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