Co-defendant testifies Carruth arranged shooting
Updated: Thursday November 23, 2000 12:47 PM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- A co-defendant in the fatal shooting of Rae Carruth's girlfriend said the former NFL player was in his vehicle a few feet in front of the victim when she was struck by gunfire.
Michael Eugene Kennedy, who testified Wednesday in Carruth's murder trial, said the former Carolina Panthers receiver went over a hill on a Charlotte road and stopped his Ford Expedition abruptly in front of Cherica Adams' car.
In another car behind Adams were Kennedy, confessed triggerman Van Brett Watkins and another man accused in the slaying, Kennedy testified.
"I pulled behind her and Watkins told me to pull beside her car," said Kennedy, who will be tried later and took the stand without a plea agreement. "Then he started shooting at her car."
Kennedy said Watkins fired four or five times rapidly into Adams' car. Carruth's car remained stopped in front of it the entire time, he said.
After the shooting, "I heard her [Cherica] screaming," Kennedy said, as Carruth watched impassively and Adams' half-sister left the courtroom in tears.
When the shooting was over, Kennedy said, Carruth drove straight away, while he turned his own car around and headed in the opposite direction.
Carruth, 26, could be executed if convicted of arranging Adams' November 1999 shooting. Adams, 24, who was eight months pregnant with Carruth's child, gave birth to a son, then died a month later. The boy is in the custody of Adams' mother.
Watkins pleaded to second-degree murder and agreed to testify against Carruth. Stanley Drew "Boss" Abraham is accused of helping in the plot and also charged with murder.
Carruth's defense claimed Watkins shot Adams in anger because Carruth reneged on a promise to pay for drugs and because she made an obscene gesture at Watkins from her car.
Kennedy testified that Carruth asked him to take Watkins to pick up a gun and wait for him to call. When Carruth phoned to say he was leaving home, the men caught up with Carruth and Adams, who were in separate vehicles, at an intersection and followed them, he said.
Later, when Watkins went into a convenience store as the three waited for Carruth and Adams to leave a movie, Kennedy said, he told Abraham for the first time of the plan to attack the pregnant woman. Abraham wanted to go home, he said, but Watkins returned to the car at that point and Kennedy, afraid, said there wasn't time.
Abraham's lawyers have insisted their client simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
After court, attorney James Exum said Kennedy stepped forward so Adams' family would know what happened. "I would consider that heroic," he said. "I would consider that great. The truth is his own reward."
Carruth's attorney, David Rudolf, described Kennedy's testimony as "desperation, pure and simple. And there's no heroism in desperation."
Kennedy was to return to the stand Monday, when court resumes after the Thanksgiving holiday.