Former NFL star released from prison after serving 18 years for conspiring to kill eight-month pregnant girlfriend

Rae Carruth was released from prison after spending 18 years behind bars for conspiring to murder eight-month pregnant girlfriend Cherica Adams in 1999.


                            Former NFL star released from prison after serving 18 years for conspiring to kill eight-month pregnant girlfriend

A former NFL football player who was convicted of conspiring to murder his pregnant girlfriend has been released from prison after serving his 18-year sentence. Rae Carruth, who was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the first round of the 1997 NFL draft, was found guilty of being involved in the murder of his then-girlfriend Cherica Adams and has served his sentence at the Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton, North Carolina.

According to the Daily Mail, the now 44-year-old Carruth was seen sporting a knit cap and an unzipped jacket as he was escorted out of prison and into a large white SUV. He did not stop to speak to the reporters who had gathered at the scene, and scattered applause could be heard as he became a free man once again.

Carruth was sentenced to 18-24 years in prison for his role in the murder of Cherica Adams (Source: Jamie Squire /Allsport)
Carruth was sentenced to 18-24 years in prison for his role in the murder of Cherica Adams (Source: Jamie Squire /Allsport)

Carruth was found complicit in the plot to kill Adams, who he was casually dating at the time, on November 16, 1999, near his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. They had been returning from a movie, with Carruth traveling in a separate car, when Van Brett Watkins Sr. and Michael Kennedy pulled up beside Adams' car and shot her four times.

However, Adams managed to call 911 and said that Carruth had stopped his vehicle in front of hers so the other car could drive alongside and shoot her. She was eight months pregnant with the footballer's child at the time and soon after she was admitted into the hospital, she fell into a coma. The doctors managed to deliver the baby via emergency cesarean section, though Adams would pass away a little under a month later.

The boy, who was named Chancellor Lee Adams, survived but suffered permanent brain damage and developed cerebral palsy due to being without oxygen for 70 minutes before he was born. Carruth, who was out on a $3 million bail on the condition that he would turn himself in if Adams died, had fled but was later found hiding in the trunk of a car outside a motel in Henderson County, Tennessee, and arrested.

During his trial, prosecutors stated that Carruth had had Adams murdered because of her refusal to abort Chancellor. It was also alleged that despite earning a $3.5 million four-year contract with the Panthers, Carruth was reluctant to shell out for child support. The 44-year-old's lawyers tried to claim that Carruth had been caught in a drug deal gone south and that Watkins had shot Adams in a sudden rage when she "flipped him off."

Nonetheless, Carruth was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child and was sentenced to 18-24 years in prison. Because he was not convicted of first-degree murder, he was spared the death penalty.

Carruth says he wants a relationship with his son (Source: YouTube)
Carruth says he wants a relationship with his son (Source: YouTube)

Following his release close to two decades later, Carruth revealed he was apprehensive about how he would be treated. "I'm nervous just about how I'll be received by the public," he told WSOC-TV. "I still have to work. I still have to live. I have to exist out there and it just seems like there is so much hate and negativity toward me. I'm actually somewhat frightened."

He also revealed how he wanted to reconnect with Chancellor and that he wanted to have a relationship with his son. "I take full responsibility for everything," he wrote in a letter to a Charlotte television station back in February. "I should be raising my son. His mother should be raising her son. Ms. Adams should not be doing this and I want that responsibility back."

He said he hopes to make things up to both his son as well as Saundra Adams, his son's grandmother who has been looking after him all these years. "I've apologized to Ms. Adams for the loss of her daughter and taken responsibility for what happened," he had written. "I don't want to harm Ms. Adams. I guess, honestly, I just want to truly be forgiven."

The grandmother said she had forgiven Carruth and that she would allow the footballer to connect with Chancellor, but ruled out handing over custody. "I've forgiven Rae already, but to have any type of relationship with him, there does have to be some repentance," she said. "And I think this opens the door. But I can say definitively he's not ever going to have custody of Chancellor."

"Chancellor will be raised either by me or, after I'm gone, by someone else who loves him and who knows him. He will never be raised by a stranger – someone he doesn't know and who tried to kill him," she added.