Now that his fourth plan had failed: a bail-jumping escape in the trunk of yet another woman's car, with $3,900 in cash and bottles to hold his urine.
Now that he'd been caught by the FBI at a Best Western in Tennessee.
Now that he lived at the Mecklenburg County jail.
Now that he was charged with first-degree murder and faced the possibility of a state-sponsored lethal injection.
Now he wanted his son.
On Feb. 17, 2000, Rae Carruth's attorney filed an answer to Saundra Adams in Mecklenburg District Court. It was one of the more brazen counterclaims in the annals of U.S. jurisprudence: a demand for permanent custody of Chancellor Lee Adams. "The Defendant," the filing read, "is a fit and proper person to exercise care, custody and control of the minor child and it is in the best interest and welfare of the minor child that his care, custody and control be vested with the Defendant at the conclusion of the Defendant's legal proceedings."
No, it wasn't enough that Saundra Adams had to spend 28 days watching her only child die. Had to watch her grandson spend the first six weeks of his life in a tangle of wires and machines. Had to become a single mother again at age 42. Had to hide from reporters day and night. Had to worry about more than $400,000 in medical bills that her descendants had racked up while fighting for their lives. None of that was enough. Now she would have to draw from the little time and energy and money she had left and fight to keep the sole remaining heir to the Adams name away from the man who had wanted him dead.
Carruth hired David Rudolf, one of the most prominent attorneys in North Carolina. He retained two more lawyers, Bill Diehl and Katie Holliday, a child-custody dream team, and they brought in Jonathan Gould, an expert in forensic psychology and parent-child relationships. Dr. Gould testified that those he interviewed found Carruth to be a sensitive and caring man, and that Chancellor, as with all infants, would benefit from physical contact with his father as soon as possible. Thus, a visit to the county jail would be in the best interests of the child.
The judge issued a ruling. Carruth's mother, Theodry, could take Chancellor from Saundra and show him to Rae through a pane of glass.
For the first eight months of Chancellor's life, Saundra had been fanatical about protecting him. She declined interviews and refused to hand out pictures. When she took him out, she covered his stroller in a shroud. She never left him alone with anyone else—not even her mother. And now a judge had sent the boy to jail to see the man charged with plotting his death.