Carruth trial: Day 15
Panthers officials testify about Carruth's financial health
Updated: Thursday December 14, 2000 8:49 PM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Rae Carruth was making more than $650,000 and had no reason to worry about the cost of supporting another son, Carolina Panthers officials testified Thursday.
Carruth, a former Panthers wide receiver, is charged with plotting to kill his pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams, who died exactly one year ago.
A makeshift memorial with a lighted candle was placed outside the courthouse, along with flowers and a small ceramic angel holding a young child. On a piece of purple paper were the words: "Remembering Cherica Adams. The Charlotte Community."
"It is a bittersweet day," said her mother, Saundra Adams, who has remained silent while attending the eight-week trial. "We really, really miss our daughter so much. We know she's in heaven."
Court ended early Thursday because a juror had a doctor's appointment.
That prompted Judge Charles Lamm to summon the attorneys for co-defendant Van Brett Watkins, who has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a plea bargain with the state. However, prosecutors did not call him as a witness.
Lamm said he had received a message from Watkins' attorney, Jean Lawson, which he interpreted as a request for a hearing to determine if the defense planned to call Watkins as a witness.
"I assume if he is called ... it's my understanding he might exert in a blanket fashion his Fifth Amendment rights [against self-incrimination]," the judge said. "I may be wrong."
Lawson told the court she only wanted to be notified if Watkins was called as a witness so she could meet with him prior to his testimony.
Carruth's attorney, David Rudolf, said he has not decided whether to call Watkins.
In the trial Thursday, Marty Hurney, director of football operations for the Panthers, testified that Carruth was in the middle of a four-year contract when the shooting occurred. He signed a $1.3 million signing bonus before the 1997 season and had earned more than $1 million in his first two seasons, he said.
"We were interested in bringing him back for the 2000 season," Hurney said.
The Panthers terminated Carruth's contract when he fled the state following Adams' death Dec. 14, 1999, and was arrested in Tennessee, Hurney said. He broke his contract by violating a court order to remain in Charlotte while out of jail on bond, Hurney said.
Carruth's defense attorneys brought in the club's trainer to talk about Carruth's football injuries and front-office executives to discuss his salary and community involvement.
The first witness was trainer John Kasik, who testified that Carruth sprained his left ankle in an Oct. 17, 1999, game against the San Francisco 49ers.
"We thought it would be between 4-to-6 weeks before he'd be 100 percent," Kasik said.
Defense attorney Chris Fialko asked the trainer if the injury was serious enough to threaten Carruth's pro football career. He prefaced his questions by noting that prosecutors have contended that Carruth was under stress when Adams was shot Nov. 16, 1999.
"We felt he would have been able to return to play," Kasik said.
Carruth, 26, could be executed if convicted of masterminding the shooting of the 24-year-old Adams, who was eight months pregnant when she was shot. Her son, delivered shortly after the shooting, is in the custody of Adams' mother.
Prosecutors have argued in the eight-week trial that Carruth had Adams killed because he didn't want to pay her child support. Defense lawyers say the shooting occurred after Carruth refused to finance a proposed drug deal.