Carruth Lawyer Seeks Statement Toss


Tuesday, May 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Police used ``improper and suggestive'' techniques when questioning Rae Carruth's co-defendants, and their statements against the former Carolina Panthers player should be tossed out, his lawyer said.

Police obtained statements from Carruth's co-defendants that suggest Carruth masterminded the Nov. 16 shooting of Cherica Adams, Carruth's pregnant girlfriend.

She gave birth to a child fathered by Carruth and died a month later. Carruth and three other men are charged with murder.

Defense attorney David Rudolf says police questioned Carruth on Nov. 24, before they interviewed co-defendants Van Brett Watkins or Michael Eugene Kennedy.

Kennedy allegedly drove the car from which the shots were fired, according to lawyers and court records. Watkins has been described as the triggerman. A third man in the car, Stanley Drew ``Boss'' Abraham, is not mentioned in Rudolf's motion.

Rudolf said courts have declared that a defendant's constitutional right to due process can be harmed if police engage in suggestive questioning of witnesses.

In most cases, Rudolf wrote, such questioning involves neutral eyewitnesses pressured into picking a ``favored suspect.'' He said the chances of a faulty statement are much greater when coming from a co-defendant.

Rudolf's motion, along with excerpts from detectives' reports attached to it, suggest Kennedy claimed he was at his girlfriend's house at the time of the shooting. Police told him they would interview his girlfriend, and if she lied for him she would be in trouble.

The supervisor in charge of the investigation, Sgt. Tom Athey, said he told Kennedy he believed Carruth had talked him into helping with the crime.

Athey's report said he told Kennedy that if Kennedy got his girlfriend involved, ``he would be doing the same thing that Rae Carruth had done to him, making his problem someone else's problem.''

Rudolf said there was no evidence at that point that Carruth had talked Kennedy into anything, or that Carruth believed he had a problem.

When police began their 10-hour interrogation of Watkins on Nov. 25, he denied involvement. Investigators told Watkins that Kennedy had identified him as the gunman.

For hours, according to Rudolf, Watkins did not implicate Carruth. Police let him see Carruth in handcuffs. When Watkins expressed concern about being arrested, Athey told him Kennedy had given a statement and hadn't been arrested.