Ex-girlfriend claims Carruth confessed to her
Updated: Saturday November 25, 2000 3:06 PM
By Leslie Boghosian, CNN/Sports Illustrated
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A woman who says she was with former Carolina Panther Rae Carruth on the night he is alleged to have conspired in the murder of his pregnant girlfriend may provide some of the most damaging testimony against him at his trial.
CNN/Sports Illustrated has learned that one of Carruth's former girlfriends, Candace Smith, has told prosecutors that Carruth admitted to her that he had taken part in the shooting of Cherica Adams.
According to sources familiar with the case, Smith claims that Carruth told her that, shortly after midnight on Nov. 16, 1999, he was driving in front of Adams' car and slowed down while a passenger in a second car, Van Brett Watkins, fired five shots into Adams' car as Carruth looked on.
Watkins already has admitted to the crime and has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He is expected to testify against Carruth and two other men who were allegedly in the car with Watkins the night Adams was shot.
Adams died one month after being shot. Her baby boy, Chancellor, was delivered by emergency Cesarean section and survived.
According to sources, Candace Smith says she was supposed to meet Carruth in the early morning hours of Nov. 16. Instead, she met up with Carruth at the hospital where he had been summoned after Adams was shot.
Sources tell CNN/Sports Illustrated that Smith told prosecutors Carruth confessed to her at the hospital that he had participated in the crime. Smith also claims in her statement to prosecutors that Carruth told her he was upset at Adams' decision not to have an abortion.
Smith was briefly questioned at the hospital by police. At that time, she told police she had no knowledge of the crime.
Carruth, 26, is charged with first-degree murder.
"We do not try our cases in the media and it would be improper for me to comment at this time," said David Graham, Mecklenburg County Assistant District Attorney.
David Rudolf, Carruth's attorney, declined to comment.
Carruth was implicated in the crime moments after it happened. After being shot, Adams called a 911 operator and said her boyfriend, Carruth, was sitting in his Ford Expedition in front of her car when "somebody pulled up beside me and did this." Moaning in pain, she said, "I think he did it. I don't know what to think."
Prosecutors contend Carruth, whose football career was troubled by injuries, masterminded the hit because he didn't want to pay child support. From the outset, Carruth has maintained his innocence, claiming he was miles away from the shooting and had nothing to do with its planning. He has been jailed without bond since December.
If convicted, Carruth could be sentenced to death.
The first week of jury selection ended with three men and two women on the panel. Attorneys expect it will take at least another week to select all 12 jurors.