Ex-girlfriend claims Carruth admitted role in shooting

Sunday, October 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHARLOTTE (AP) _ A woman who once dated former Carolina Panthers player Rae Carruth says he told her he witnessed the fatal shooting of his pregnant girlfriend and was mad at her for not getting an abortion, according to media reports.

According to The Charlotte Observer and CNN/Sports Illustrated, Candace Smith told police Carruth admitted he was upset with Cherica Adams and was at the scene of the November 1999 shooting.

``He just said he didn't like her, and he just wished she would die,'' Smith reportedly told police, according to the Observer.

The newspaper reported that it had obtained a copy of the 32-page transcript of Smith's June interview with police. CNN/SI did not divulge the source on which it based its report.

Carruth and three other men have been charged with plotting Adams' murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Carruth, whose murder trial enters its second week of jury selection Monday.

Smith is expected to testify at Carruth's trial.

Carruth has maintained his innocence.

According to the reports, Smith joined Carruth at Carolinas Medical Center just after the drive-by shooting as doctors struggled to keep Adams and her baby alive.

Adams, 24, died a month later, but doctors saved the baby, Chancellor.

After a police officer finished talking to Carruth at the hospital, Smith asked Carruth if he had anything to do with the shooting, the Observer reported.

She quoted Carruth as saying: ``I was in front of her and I slowed down and hit the brakes just enough for her to slow her car down, and that's when I saw the dudes come up and fire into her car.''

Smith also recalled Carruth telling her: ``I can't get in trouble though 'cause I didn't shoot her, right? I mean, I didn't have the gun. There's no gunpowder on my clothes or in my car.''

Prosecutors have said Van Brett Watkins fired the fatal shots. Watkins has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is expected to testify against Carruth.

Carruth's defense attorney, David Rudolf, told the Observer nothing reported in the newspaper's story and attributed to Smith is true.

``I find it unfortunate that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is now engaging in surreptitiously releasing statements that have no truth in an attempt to poison the jury pool,'' he said. ``If they want to file something in court that substantiates what they claim, they ought to do that instead of hiding behind leaks.''

Police Chief Darrel Stephens said he didn't believe the information came from his department.

``The trial is designed to take place in the courtroom and not the newspapers,'' he said. ``Whatever the source of the information is, I have no clue.''

Smith's lawyer, Lyle Yurko, and prosecutors all declined comment.