Criminal Law Lawyer Washington DC
Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth took more than a tumble in life when he was found guilty in 2001 of conspiracy to commit murder, using an instrument with intent to destroy an unborn child and discharging a firearm into occupied property.
On Nov. 16, 1999, real estate agent Cherica Adams, who was dating Carruth, was driving when she was shot four times near Carruth’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina. Earlier in the night, Carruth and Adams had gone to the movies to watch The Bone Collector and driven to the athlete’s home separately. At the time, she was eight-months pregnant with Carruth’s son. She was rushed to the hospital and quickly fell into a coma. Doctors were able to save her son’s life via emergency cesarean section, but he, who was later named Chancellor Lee Adams, was deprived of oxygen for 70 minutes after his mom’s shooting, suffered from permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy as a result of his traumatic delivery. Adams fell into a coma, and eventually died of her injuries one month after the shooting.
In her 911 call, Adams identified Carruth as “the one who did this.” While driving, Carruth stopped his car in front of hers and that another car pulled beside her and shot her.
Carruth fled after the shooting, but was captured in December 1999 when police found him hiding in the trunk of a car outside of a hotel in Tennessee. The trunk also contained $3,900 cash, bottles of his urine, extra clothes, candy bars, and a cell phone. Days later, the Panthers waived, citing a morals clause in his contract. The NFL suspended him indefinitely on December 17.
During his trial, prosecutors argued that Carruth, who had a son named Raelondo with a former girlfriend, was upset at the news that Adams was pregnant and refused to abort the the pregnancy Subsequently, the attorneys claimed that Carruth hired two men, night club manager Van Brett Watkins and Michael Kennedy, to murder her.
Watkins admitted to the shooting and during the trial that the former NFL player spent months planning the contract killing of Cherica Adams. The defense maintained that Watkins had impulsively shot Adams on his own. But while on the stand, Watkins told defense lawyer David Rudolf that he was afraid of Carruth.
“This wasn’t about Cherica Adams. It was about your client,” Watkins said. “This wasn’t a one-day affair. It was six months. He dragged me into something I didn’t want to be involved in.”
Watkins also said on the stand that Carruth hired him to kill Adams and paid him $6,000 for the murder.
“He hired me as a hit man,” Watkins said in court. “He hired me to kill Cherica Adams and the baby. I couldn’t bring myself to kill the baby. I shot at the top [of the car], not through the door.”
Carruth’s lawyer David Rudolf argued that Carruth was in a drug deal gone bad. His legal team claimed that Carruth had refused to fund a drug deal with Watkins, so he suddenly shot Adams in a sudden rage after she “flipped him off.” Carruth did not testify during the trial.
In 2001, Carruth was sentenced to 18 to 24 years in 2001 after being found guilty of hiring Watkins and Michael Kennedy to murder Adams. Watkins pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to a minimum of 40 years. He is expected to be in prison until at least 2046. Kennedy, who drove the car, was released in 2011.
Carruth was cleared of first-degree murder, which spared him the death penalty.
Almost two decades later, Carruth was released from Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton, North Carolina, on Oct. 22, 2018.
Upon his release, Saundra Adams, Cherica’s mother who has raised now-18-year-old Chancellor, told the News Observer, “I want to forgive him so that I can move on and enjoy the fruits of my labor and enjoy my life. Because if I’m sitting around in unforgiveness, it’s like me drinking poison and hoping he’s going to die.”
Carruth is currently serving a nine-month supervised probation term related to his convictions.