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Carruth trial: Day 4

Kennedy testimony continues to point finger at defendant

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Posted: Monday November 27, 2000 2:44 PM
Updated: Friday December 22, 2000 12:36 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- A co-defendant in Rae Carruth's murder trial said Monday he rejected plea agreements twice because he was innocent in the killing of the former pro football player's pregnant girlfriend.

Michael Eugene Kennedy, one of three co-defendants, said he thought the Carruth and the confessed triggerman, Van Brett Watkins, should be held accountable in the killing last year of Cherica Adams. Kennedy testified for prosecutors and was due back on the stand Tuesday morning.

"I have no motive and neither does Stanley," Kennedy said, referring to another co-defendant, Stanley Drew "Boss" Abraham.

Kennedy has testified he was driving a car carrying Abraham and Watkins, who shot Adams as she sat in her own car where it was stopped behind Carruth's vehicle.

Kennedy said he felt Carruth had threatened his life. After the slaying, he said, Carruth told him not to talk to police.

Adams was eight months pregnant with Carruth's child when she was shot Nov. 16, 1999, in what prosecutors said was a trap laid by Carruth to avoid having to pay child support.

Nick Charles at the Rae Carruth Trial
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    Carruth, at the time a member of the Carolina Panthers, has denied involvement in the shooting.

    "I have four children," Kennedy said. "Unlike Rae, I would never kill them or pay somebody to kill them. ... Some people might call me a snitch for what I did, but I'm pretty sure nobody in their right mind would have gone down for something they didn't do."

    Kennedy said Carruth paid Watkins to shoot Adams. He also said Carruth gave him $100 to buy a gun.

    The 26-year-old Carruth could be executed if convicted of arranging Adams' shooting. Adams, 24, gave birth to a son, then died a month later. The boy is in the custody of Adams' mother.

    Watkins has confessed to shooting Adams, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and agreed to testify against Carruth.

    Carruth's defense has 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 and Abraham are to be tried separately on murder charges.

    On cross-examination, Kennedy admitted to selling drugs, but said he was forced to do it because he was out of work.

    After spending two full mornings listening to co-defendant Michael Kennedy implicate his client in murder, the lawyer for Rae Carruth finally got his turn Monday. Defense attorney David Rudolph attempted to shred Kennedy's testimony that he was pulled into a murder plot by Carruth. He also suggested that Kennedy was coached by police investigators and that his priority was not to tell the truth, but to save his own skin.

    Rudolph pointed out several inconsistencies between Kennedy's testimony in court and what he told police investigators earlier. He also touched on Kennedy's history of drug dealing which is a glimpse of what we can expect the defense's version to be of what happened that night: that the killing of Cherica Adams was the result of Van Brett Watkins, the shooter's rage over a failed drug buy rather than a murder plot orchestrated by Rae Carruth.

    -- Nick Charles, 

    "I had lost my job and I did it every once in a while," he told defense lawyer David Rudolf, who tried to discredit Kennedy's testimony.

    For more than two hours, Rudolf attempted to impeach Kennedy as a credible witness, asking him questions about past drug dealing and his role in the 1994 shooting of another drug dealer.

    He tried unsuccessfully to get Kennedy to say he was testifying without a plea agreement in hopes of earning a more lenient sentence when he goes on trial.

    "I just want that family to know the truth," Kennedy said, looking at Cherica Adams' relatives in the courtroom.

    At the end of the day, with the jury gone, Superior Court Judge Charles Lamm upheld a motion by witness Candace Smith, who wanted to prevent her face from being shown on Court TV or in still photographs when she testifies.

    According to published reports, Smith, a former girlfriend of Carruth, told police he said he disliked Adams so much he wished she was dead. Smith also said Carruth told her he had seen Adams shot and left the scene worrying that he would be implicated.

    As testimony opened Monday, Kennedy repeated parts of his testimony from last week's two days of trial to refresh the memories of jurors who had a long holiday weekend off.

    He said Carruth told him to follow as he and Adams drove in separate vehicles. Carruth said a friend would be in Kennedy's car who "would know what to do," Kennedy testified.

    He said Carruth had talked to him prior to the killing about wanting to avoid child support payments.

    Jurors also listened to a tape recording of an interview Kennedy gave police in which he made many of the statements he repeated on the witness stand.

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