Carruth Lawyers Make Claims

Thursday, October 19th 2000, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Lawyers for former pro football player Rae Carruth claim his pregnant girlfriend was fatally shot by a friend of his who was angry because the athlete refused to finance a drug deal.

A 16-page motion filed Wednesday, five days before jury selection is to begin in Carruth's murder trial, claims confessed triggerman Van Brett Watkins fatally shot Cherica Adams when she made an obscene gesture at him, not because Carruth paid to have her killed.

``She looked over at the car and seen us, she flipped me off. ... I lost it. I just started shooting,'' Watkins is quoted as saying in handwritten notes from a Mecklenburg County sheriff's deputy.

The deputy said Watkins voluntarily offered details about his role in the shooting while he was being held in the county jail.

The motion claims the Nov. 16 shooting occurred hours after Carruth, then a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers, refused to finance a drug deal involving Watkins and another man charged in Adams' murder.

Watkins was trying to follow Carruth's vehicle to get a loan for marijuana, the motion said.

``It was Rae's fault,'' the deputy recalled Watkins saying. ``If he had just given us the money none of this would have happened.''

According to the motion, that statement is consistent with what Carruth told FBI agents on Dec. 15, when he said ``he felt (Watkins and co-defendant Michael Kennedy) were trying to get money from him.''

The deputy's notes, disclosed on the eve of Carruth's murder trial, could damage Watkins' credibility and perhaps the prosecution's case. Carruth's attorneys asked for a hearing on the motion before the trial begins.

Carruth's attorneys filed the motion asking Superior Court Judge Charles Lamm to require that prosecutors turn over any information they have about drug dealing involving Watkins and Kennedy.

The defense says in the motion that it intends to show that Watkins was dealing drugs, while Watkins and Kennedy wanted Carruth to help finance a drug buy.

Prosecutors could not be reached for comment after the motion was filed late Wednesday afternoon. Carruth's attorney, David Rudolf, declined to comment.

Prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty, describe Carruth as the mastermind of a plot to murder Adams so he wouldn't have to pay child support. Their son was delivered before Adams died Dec. 14 and is in the custody of her family.

Watkins pleaded guilty in July to murdering Adams and agreed to testify against Carruth. Watkins told investigators Carruth offered him $5,000 to assault Adams and hurt her baby.

Two other men, Kennedy, 25, and Stanley Drew ``Boss'' Abraham, 20, are to be tried later on murder charges.

Prosecutors say Adams' car was blocked in front by Carruth's vehicle and on the side by one driven by Kennedy and carrying Abraham and Watkins, who then shot her.

Adams, in a 911 call and in handwritten notes made after her shooting, implicated Carruth, saying he had blocked her way.

But in Wednesday's documents, defense lawyers say Watkins acted on his own.

``Nobody double crosses me and gets by,'' the deputy's notes quoted Watkins as saying.

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