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Carruth trial: Day 30

Jury begins deliberations on defendant's fate

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Posted: Tuesday January 16, 2001 1:09 PM
Updated: Wednesday January 17, 2001 12:07 PM

  Gentry Caudill Gentry Cauldill: "Cherica [Adams] is still here. She's the voice saying to you that [Rae] Carruth did this, he's guilty." AP

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Jurors began deliberating the murder case against Rae Carruth on Tuesday after a prosecutor said the former NFL player was a charmer who hid his dark side from almost everyone.

That included Cherica Adams, the pregnant girlfriend whose murder Carruth is accused of arranging, Assistant District Attorney Gentry Cauill said during closing arguments.

"Rae Carruth can turn on the charm. ... People are drawn to him," Caudill told jurors. "There's another side to him that I hope you have seen with the evidence in this case. Cherica saw it too late."

After Caudill spoke, Judge Charles Lamm instructed the jurors, who received instructions and began deliberating.

Carruth, 26, could get the death penalty if convicted of killing Cherica Adams, 24, who was eight months' pregnant with his child when she was shot four times. She died a month later. The boy survived and lives with Adams' mother.

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CNNSI.com's Nick Charles gets analysis of the Rae Carruth closing statements from SI legal expert Lester Munson. Start
Case History
Rae Carruth Murder Trial
  • Carruth apprehended: Police arrest Rae Carruth 5:45 p.m. ET on Dec. 15, 1999, in Wildersville, Tenn. He was found by police inside the trunk of a vehicle.
  • Extradition waived: Wearing leg irons and handcuffs, Carruth tells a judge he will return to North Carolina to face a murder charge in the shooting of his pregnant girlfriend.
  • Contradictory information: In contradiction to police statements, defense lawyers say Carruth voluntarily provided evidence to detectives investigating his pregnant girlfriend's shooting within hours of being contacted.
  • Co-defendant pleads guily: Van Brett Watkins pleads guilty to second-degree murder and agrees to testify against Carruth and two co-defendants.
  • Defense strategy: Less than a week before Carruth is scheduled to go to trial for the murder, lawyers file a motion contending Cherica Adams' death was an unintended consequence of a drug transaction gone sour, and not a murder for hire. 
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    Caudill, delivering rebuttal closing arguments following Monday's closing by defense attorney David Rudolf, spent much of his time Tuesday defending Amber Turner, a former Carruth girlfriend who testified that he threatened to kill her when she became pregnant in 1998 and insisted she have an abortion.

    "She has been nothing but the best friend this man ever had," Caudill said. "And the abuse heaped on her in this court is disgusting."

    In his closing Monday, Rudolf said investigators demonstrated "tunnel vision" by targeting Carruth after Adams was shot in 1999.

    Police wrongly settled on the theory that Carruth arranged a contract hit on Adams to get out of paying child support, Rudolf said.

    "They weren't looking for information," he said. "They were looking for confirmation."

    He said authorities should have focused on self-incriminating statements by admitted triggerman and co-defendant Van Brett Watkins that would have cleared Carruth.

    "The shooting of Cherica Adams was in fact an act of senseless, mindless rage by Van Brett Watkins," he said. "It had nothing to do with Cherica Adams' pregnancy. It had nothing to do with Rae Carruth hiring anyone to do anything."

    But Caudill said Tuesday that the evidence did not support the rage theory, put forth by a jailer, Sgt. Shirley Riddle. Riddle testified that Watkins told her he shot Adams after she made an obscene gesture, but Caudill said the pattern of shots and other evidence contradicted that account.

    Prosecutors told jurors the 911 call in which the wounded Adams implicated Carruth was sufficient evidence to return a first-degree murder conviction.

    "She's the voice saying to you that Carruth did this, he's guilty," Caudill said.

    The prosecution replayed the 911 call from Nov. 16, 1999, in which Adams said Carruth's car slowed in front of hers before she was shot from another car. In notes she wrote from her hospital bed, Adams said Carruth stopped his car, blocking her vehicle, rather than slowing.

    Rudolf questioned the reliability of the call, saying Adams was scared, in pain and suffering from severe internal bleeding.


     
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