Carruth trial: Day 18
Psychologist says leading questions asked in probe
Updated: Wednesday December 20, 2000 9:02 AM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Police and family members asked Cherica Adams leading questions and distorted her memory of what happened the day she was shot, a psychologist testified Tuesday at the murder trial of Rae Carruth.
Elizabeth Loftus, a psychologist at the University of Washington and a memory expert, said this could account for a discrepancy in two accounts in which Adams describes the actions by the former NFL player right before the 1999 drive-by shooting.
Prosecutors earlier entered into evidence the 911 call Adams made after she was wounded and the notes she scribbled in her hospital several hours later. Both pointed to Carruth's involvement in the 1999 drive-by shooting, according to prosecutors.
Adams used her cellular phone to call rescuers from her car after she was shot. On the 911 tape, she says: "He [Carruth] was in a car in front of me, he slowed down and someone pulled up and did this."
Hours later, after surgery and medicated with painkillers, she wrote a note that Carruth stopped her with his own vehicle, blocking her path right before the other car pulled up and the shots were fired.
Prosecutors say the statements are consistent.
Loftus said the 911 operator posed the first of a number of leading questions by asking whether Adams thought Carruth was responsible for her shooting.
"There is a bit of a suggestion in this," Loftus told the jury. "It may have planted a seed."
The first police officer to arrive on the shooting scene posed another leading question, Loftus said, by asking Adams, "Did your boyfriend shoot you?"
The police officer's report states Adams nodded in affirmative, Loftus said, while trial testimony has shown that Carruth was not the trigger man.
Dr. Gary Pellom testified Monday that Adams was under the influence of a powerful combination of pain killers and other drugs when she wrote the incriminating notes about Carruth in the hospital.
"You can be seemingly alert and still be under the influence of these drugs," said Pellom, adding the drugs she was given could have a major impact on her recall.
Prosecutor David Graham asked Pellom how Adams' memory could have been affected by drugs when she gave identical accounts of the shooting in the 911 tape and her hospital notes several hours later.
"It's my understanding that is not the case," Pellom said about Graham's statement.
Carruth, 26, could be executed if convicted of planning the Nov. 16, 1999, shooting of the 24-year-old Adams, who was eight months' pregnant when she was shot. She died a month later. Her son, Chancellor Adams, is in the custody of Adams' mother.
Defense attorneys contend the shooting happened because Carruth refused to finance a proposed drug deal.
An accountant testified earlier Monday that Carruth had a net worth of $368,000 the day before Adams was shot. The testimony by former IRS criminal investigator Adrian Barnett challenged the prosecution's argument that Carruth feared financial trouble when he masterminded the drive-by shooting of his pregnant girlfriend.
Carruth, who played with the Carolina Panthers at the time of the shooting, was taking home $19,000 per game and was unlikely to be in any financial difficulty in 2000, Barnett said.