Kennedy's testimony damaging to Carruth
Updated: Wednesday November 29, 2000 8:53 AM
The cross-examination of Michael Kennedy continued Tuesday in the Rae Carruth murder trial in Charlotte, N.C. A co-defendant in the case, Kennedy is testifying without immunity from prosecution and has provided the most important testimony to date. CNNSI.com's Nick Charles has been covering the trial and he was interviewed by CNNSI.com's Johnny Phelps.
Johnny Phelps: Nick, you've been watching Kennedy on the stand since last week. What has been the impact of his testimony?
Nick Charles: Well, the important thing, Johnny, is that Kennedy said Carruth masterminded a murder plot. Kennedy also said Carruth threatened him and got him to buy the gun and become the wheel man in the murder plot in the shooting. And he also said Carruth participated in the crime. That equals potential damage.
Phelps: We've seen two full days of cross-examination by defense attorney David Rudolf. How has he tried to neutralize Kennedy's testimony?
Charles: By trying to uncover inconsistencies between what Kennedy told police in earlier investigations, sworn statements and what he said on the witness stand here in court. And he scored some points. I'll give you an example: When Cherica Adams was shot and still alive it was an assault case. Kennedy testified then to police that Carruth called him soon after the shooting just to say, "I'm OK." When Adams died and it became a murder case, Kennedy testified later to police that Carruth, when he called him after the shooting said, "Don't tell the police anything." So that's an inconsistency. However, when Rudolf attempted to imply that Kennedy had been coached by his lawyers on how to testify in court, the defense attorney's strategy backfired when Kennedy told the court that Rudolf would try to make him out to look like a liar, when in fact, he testified he was telling the truth.
The jury looked tired when Rudolf was dwelling on so many details that really don't figure in terms of vital testimony. And they may perceive that Rudolf, as the defense attorney, is just grasping at straws at a desperate man, Johnny.
Phelps: It really has been meticulous cross-examination. But how's Kennedy coming across as a witness? How believable is he?
Charles: He's a criminal and they've brought up his criminal record. He doesn't want to die, that's apparent. But given all of that and that said, he comes across as a guy who is not in the least bit defensive. That makes him believable. It could make him a believable witness and a very strong one for the prosecution because the jury may infer from this that he's so calm simply because he's telling the truth. It may also preclude the prosecution from having to call up Van Brett Watkins, a very dangerous potential witness because he's a known psychopath. He's medicated and diagnosed as a psychopath. And he's given conflicting testimony saying that he killed Adams, that he killed her in a rage. He told a jailer that. And once again, he earlier told police that Carruth masterminded this plot.
Michael Kennedy has testified without a plea agreement and in fact said he rejected two plea offers from the state because he feels he is innocent, even though he drove the car from which the shots were fired at Adams.