Jurors report they are divided on charges against Carruth
Updated: Thursday January 18, 2001 8:36 PM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Deadlocked jurors in Rae Carruth's murder trial were ordered Thursday to keep trying to reach a verdict on whether the former NFL player masterminded the killing of his pregnant girlfriend.
"We voted on all four charges, and we are split on all four charges," said a note from the jurors, which was read in court by Judge Charles Lamm. "We are at impasse and need instruction on what to do at this point."
After a lunch break, Lamm told the jurors to resume deliberations and keep a record of the numerical split of any vote they might take. The jury must vote unanimously to convict.
"I'm now in my discretion going to return you to the jury room and ask you to continue deliberating to see if you can make progress toward reaching a verdict in this matter," he said.
Court recessed for the day at 4:30 p.m., bringing the total length of deliberations to about 14 1/2 hours since jurors got the case Tuesday.
Carruth, 26, is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Cherica Adams, who was eight months' pregnant when she was shot. He could be sentenced to death if convicted.
Adams, 24, was shot four times Nov. 16, 1999, while driving down a Charlotte street. She died a month later. Her son, fathered by Carruth, was delivered by emergency Caesarean section and is now in the custody of Adams' mother.
Carruth is also charged with conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child.
"I think there's still a lot of deliberating they can do," defense lawyer David Rudolf said. "I'm sure the judge is not going to allow them to stop deliberating."
On Wednesday, the panel discussed several exhibits in the courtroom while reporters and others watched. Rudolf had objected to jurors taking the exhibits into the jury room.
Carruth's mother, Theodry Carruth, said the impasse encouraged her. "My faith is still strong," she said.
After the judge announced the jury split, Carruth's family gathered in a prayer circle in a hallway outside the courtroom. Theodry Carruth pulled out a small vial of oil and anointed each person's forehead before a prayer was said.
Prosecutors claimed Carruth, who already had one son, arranged the hit on Adams because he didn't want to be responsible for another child.
Two co-defendants -- confessed gunman Van Brett Watkins and Michael Kennedy, who drove the car that carried Watkins -- testified Carruth arranged the shooting.
Perhaps the most damning testimony came from Adams herself, as prosecutors played a recording of her call to a 911 operator moments after she was shot.
Moaning in pain, Adams said Carruth had stopped his Ford Expedition in front of her car when "somebody pulled up beside me and did this. ... I think he did it. I don't know what to think."
Carruth's defense insisted Watkins shot Adams on his own because he was angry that Carruth had backed out of a drug deal and because Adams made an obscene gesture at him from her car.
The defense also challenged the idea that Carruth -- then a member of the Carolina Panthers -- was afraid to pay child support, calling team officials to testify that he was making more than $650,000.