Carruth trial: Day 16
Defense attorneys build case around phone calls
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Rae Carruth's defense attorneys Friday began building their case that the series of telephone calls between the former NFL player and his co-defendants indicates a drug deal, not a murder-for-hire scheme.
"We hope ... to show the pattern of phone calls was more consistent with a drug deal than an attempt to set up a contract hit," defense attorney David Rudolf said after leading a private investigator through his analysis of thousands of phone calls.
Rudolf noted that key prosecution witness and co-defendant Michael Kennedy testified that the calls among the co-defendants were made just hours before the drive-by shooting of Carruth's pregnant girlfriend Nov. 16, 1999.
"In fact, the phone calls were made within eight to 10 days," Rudolf said.
On Friday, private investigator Ron Guerette, who works for Rudolf, described for jurors a laundry list of calls from Nov. 9, 1999, to Nov. 14, 1999. They included beeper and voice mail messages and phone conversations among Carruth, Kennedy and co-defendant Van Brett Watkins.
The analysis also included telephone records of the victim, Cherica Adams, and some of the witnesses in the eight-week trial.
Rudolf has said he will try to show patterns in calls between Carruth and others that suggest an ongoing attempted drug deal. The defense claims Watkins shot Adams in anger over a foiled drug deal. Prosecutors have said Carruth wanted Adams dead so he wouldn't have to pay child support.
Guerette said his analysis of 3,800 pages of phone records showed the state did not include some important calls from the days leading up to the shooting.
Judge Charles Lamm would not allow Rudolf to have Guerette, a former police investigator, testify as an expert on phone-call patterns of drug deals. The ruling meant Guerette could not discuss the drug deal theory in his testimony.
Asked by Rudolf to explain the significance of the calls he was focusing on, Guerette said he cited "the number of the calls, a lot of the calls are of short duration, calls linking people together."
The shooting occurred around 12:30 a.m., about the same time Guerette said phone records indicated Carruth was talking on his cell phone to an Atlanta woman.
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.