Carruth Defendant Pleads Guilty

Tuesday, August 1st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A man accused of shooting the girlfriend of former Carolina Panthers receiver Rae Carruth pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Monday, a prosecutor said.

Van Brett Watkins also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, intent to kill an unborn child and shooting into occupied property, said assistant district attorney Gentry Caudill.

Watkins admitted in court that he fired the gun that killed Cherica Adams, Caudill said.

``We anticipate that he will testify in the other cases,'' the prosecutor said.

Watkins, Carruth, Michael Eugene Kennedy and Stanley Drew ``Boss'' Abraham all were charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy and intent to kill an unborn child in the Nov. 16 shooting. Watkins and Kennedy also were charged with discharging a firearm into occupied property.

Watkins' lawyer, Claire Rauscher, refused to comment on the plea or on the possibility that Watkins would testify.

Watkins faces more than 50 years in prison but won't be sentenced until after Carruth and the two other men are tried. During Monday's hearing, prosecutors said they hoped to try the defendants together in October.

Carruth's lawyer, David Rudolf, said Watkins' testimony can't hurt his client ``if he tells the truth, which is that Mr. Carruth had nothing to do with this.''

Adams was shot four times from a passing vehicle as she drove her car in a Charlotte suburb. She was pregnant with Carruth's child at the time. The boy was delivered by emergency Caesarean section hours after the shooting. Adams died Dec. 14.

Carruth has been out of action since October with an ankle injury. He was in the third year of a four-year, $3.7 million contract.

Watkins' plea came just two weeks after reports that prosecutors had called off any bargains that would have allowed the defendants to plead guilty to second-degree murder.

It also came the same day that a judge held a hearing to determine how much child support Carruth should pay for his son, Chancellor Adams.

At the child support hearing, psychologist Jonathan Gould argued that Carruth should be allowed supervised, videotaped visits with his son. Carruth is being held in jail without bond, so Gould suggested the visits could be held in a conference room adjacent to the jail library.

Gould's report was admitted into evidence, then sealed by Judge Yvonne Mims Evans. Evans said she would rule on the visitation request Tuesday.

Adams' parents, Saundra Adams and Jeffrey Moonie, have sued Carruth for custody of the child and for child support. Saundra Adams has temporary custody.

Moonie, visibly upset, declined to comment on Watkins' plea.