Carruth trial: Day 5
Defense questions key prosecution witness
Updated: Tuesday November 28, 2000 11:50 PM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Rae Carruth's lawyer tried to discredit the testimony of a key witness Tuesday, questioning whether he heard Carruth's girlfriend scream as she was shot.
The cross-examination by David Rudolf delved into nearly every statement Michael Eugene Kennedy made last week in the murder trial of the former NFL player. Kennedy has said he heard Cherica Adams screaming.
"You testified about hearing Ms. Adams scream ... but you never said that in your first interview with police, did you?" Rudolf asked.
"No, sir," Kennedy replied.
Kennedy's testimony, completed Tuesday, has dominated the first week of the trial. Kennedy said Carruth masterminded the November 1999 slaying of Adams. Kennedy, Carruth and two other men are charged in the shooting; Kennedy testified without immunity from prosecution.
For two days, Rudolf has attacked Kennedy's credibility, asking questions about past drug dealing and his role in a 1994 shooting of another drug dealer.
At that point, Rudolf interrupted him, saying: "Rae says he's innocent and he says you're a liar."
The exchange was typical of Rudolf's cross-examination of the prosecution's key witness.
The confrontational mood inside the courtroom also was displayed in the brief questioning by prosecutor David Graham when Rudolf was finished with his cross-examination. Graham asked Kennedy why he voluntarily submitted to a police interview eight days after Adams was shot on Nov. 16, 1999.
Kennedy responded that he was called by investigators.
"Why ... didn't you just crawl into the trunk of your car?" Graham asked, alluding to Carruth's flight to Tennessee in the trunk of a female friend's Toyota Camry after Adams died.
Prosecutors declined to say who they planned to call as their next witness on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old Carruth could be executed if convicted of arranging the killing. Adams, 24, gave birth to a son. She died a month later. The boy is in the custody of Adams' mother.
Kennedy has testified that he drove the car from which shots were fired at Adams. Carruth wanted to kill Adams and her baby to avoid paying child support, he testified last week.
Rudolf said police statements showed Kennedy changed his story about how one co-defendant, who has confessed to being the triggerman, got the gun used in the crime.
Kennedy said in one police statement he bought the gun used in the slaying, but in an earlier statement said the triggerman bought it. On Monday, Kennedy testified that Carruth gave him $100 to buy the gun.
During cross-examination, Kennedy said he lied to police to protect a friend who sold him the gun.
"If you are willing to lie to protect a friend of yours, you would also be willing to lie to protect yourself," Rudolf said.
Kennedy said: "No, sir. I'm not lying here on the stand."
Rudolf had already attacked Kennedy's credibility a day earlier, asking questions about past drug dealing and his role in a 1994 shooting of another drug dealer.
Kennedy bristled during one exchange when Rudolf asked if the gun was bought in a store or on the street.
"That's where people like you buy guns, isn't it?" Rudolf asked.
Kennedy responded, "What do you mean, people like me?"
Rudolf quickly said: "People who sell drugs and shoot people."
Several times during Rudolf's questioning, prosecutor Gentry Caudill complained that the defense lawyer was making snide remarks.
Co-defendant and confessed triggerman Van Brett Watkins already had confessed to shooting Adams, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and agreed to testify against Carruth.
Kennedy told the jury that Carruth hatched the murder plot to avoid having to pay child support -- Adams was eight months' pregnant. A member of the Carolina Panthers at the time, Carruth has denied involvement in the shooting.
Kennedy said he rejected two plea offers from the state because he believed he was innocent.
Carruth's defense team contends Watkins shot Adams because Carruth reneged on a promise to pay for drugs and because she made an obscene gesture at Watkins from her car.
Kennedy and another co-defendant, Stanley Drew "Boss" Abraham, are to be tried separately on murder charges.