Rae Carruth Trial: 2000-01
Cherica Adams Dies And Rae Carruth Flees
Carruth was released on a $3 million bond on December 6. Eight days later Cherica Adams died of multiple organ system failure resulting from the gunshot wounds, and the charge of first-degree murder was added to others faced by Carruth and the other three codefendants. Instead of turning himself into police, as it had been arranged that he would do in this situation, Rae Carruth disappeared. His flight, however, was short-lived; the following day FBI agents, acting on information from his mother, discovered him hiding in the trunk of a car in the parking lot of a motel in Wildersville, Tennessee. He was returned to North Carolina and held in jail until his trial. At the end of December what had been generally supposed was confirmed: tests showed that Rae Carruth was the father of Cherica Adams's child.
Carruth retained David Rudolph, a founder of the Chapel Hill firm of Rudolph, Maher, Widenhouse, and Fialko. Rudolph had a strong reputation as a criminal defense lawyer and had successfully represented several clients in highprofile cases. He would be assisted by his partner, Christopher Fialko. The prosecution was headed by Mecklenburg County assistant district attorney Gentry Caudill; a veteran prosecutor, this would be his last case before becoming a judge. Van Brett Watkins accepted a plea bargain, confessing that he had shot Cherica Adams and pleading guilty to second-degree murder and the other charges. He agreed to testify against Carruth and the other defendants. In pretrial motions Rudolph was unsuccessful in attempting to exclude as evidence the tape of Cherica Adams's 911 call, the notes she had written in the hospital, and testimony regarding Carruth's flight to Tennessee.
In a separate proceeding in civil court in August 2000, Carruth was found to be indigent, his house having been sold at foreclosure and his other assets disposed of. This ruling, househowever, havingbeen was soldsealed at the request of Judge Charles Lamm, who had been assigned the criminal case. In a decision, which was controversial in the local legal community when it became known, Judge Lamm instructed Rudolph and Fialko to continue to represent Carruth as public defenders. None of this became public knowledge until the closing days of the ensuing trial.
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