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Sacramento son Ray Carruth, born on January 20, 1974, was a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers. At age 23, he signed a four-year contract for $3.7 million as a starting wide receiver. In 1998, with just one season under his belt, he broke his foot. In 1999, he sprained his ankle, and there were rumors that he was becoming a liability to the Panthers. A once promising career had begun to go sour. Rae Carruth had dated freely and after losing a paternity suit in 1997, was committed to child support payments in excess of $3,000 a month. He had also made bad financial investments and coupled with his injuries and questions of his future earning potential were of major concern. In 2001, he learned that his 24-year old girlfriend, Cherica Adams, was pregnant with his second child.

On Monday evening, October 15, 1999, Carruth and Adams spent the evening on a date at a movie theater in south Charlotte. At about 12:30 AM the next day, as she was driving home through a middle-class suburban neighborhood in Charlotte, Cherica Adams, eight months pregnant, was shot four times from a car that pulled alongside her. Although shot four times and gravely wounded, she managed to drive her car onto the lawn of a private home, and make an emergency call on her car phone. She identified the driver of the car that had pulled in front of her as Ray Carruth.

At Carolinas Medical Center, Adams’ baby boy was delivered by emergency C-section and survived. Later as she was dying, Adams made the statement that Carruth had blocked her car so she could not escape the bullets that killed her. Based on her notes and other evidence, the police charged Carruth with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and using a gun to attempt to kill an unborn child.

After his arrest, Carruth was able to post a $3 million bail, on condition that if either Cherica or Chancellor died, he would turn himself in. However, after Cherica’s death, he fled the state and the Panthers fired him a few days later citing violation of his contract’s moral clause. FBI agents found him in the trunk of a friend’s car in Wildersville, TN and placed him back into custody.

Also arrested for involvement in the crime was Van Brett Watkins, a habitual criminal. Others arrested included Michael Kennedy, believed to be the driver of the car; and Stanley Abraham, who was in the passenger seat of the car during the shootings. The defense argued that the shooting was a result of a drug deal that Carruth was supposed to finance, but backed out of, at the last minute. The prosecutors argued that Carruth was the one who arranged to have Adams killed because he did not want to pay child support.

Carruth never took the stand. Although over 25 people testified on his behalf, 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.

Today, Carruth’s son Chancellor is living happily with his grandmother.

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