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Rae Carruth Trial: 2000-01

Recording Of 911 Call Is Played In Opening Statements

Jury selection began on October 23, 2000, and lasted almost a month, resulting in a panel of seven men and five women. As a part of its opening statement on November 20, the prosecution played the tape of Cherica Adams' emergency call. Their case centered on the fact, as subsequent witnesses were called to confirm, that she had identified Rae Carruth to the dispatcher, again to police at the scene in the hearing of a paramedic witness, and again at the hospital in the presence of a nurse. Carruth, the prosecution would show, had recruited Watkins and Kennedy to kill Adams because he did not want to pay support for her child, on top of the child support of $3,000 per month that he already was paying for a child he had fathered in California. The defense would argue that Carruth had not been involved in any plot to kill Cherica Adams, that the motive presented was implausible, given the fact that Carruth was earning $650,000 a year at the time of the shooting, and that the shooting was an indirect consequence of Carruth's refusal to finance a drug deal.

The first of several unexpected developments in the trial occurred the following day when the prosecution presented Michael Eugene Kennedy as its first witness. Although still facing his own capital murder trial, Kennedy testified without having entered into a formal or informal plea bargain arrangement with the prosecution. Kennedy told the court that he had rented and driven the car from which the shooting occurred, that Carruth had given him $100 to buy the gun, and that Carruth's reason was his unwillingness to pay child support. The prosecution then called another former girlfriend of Carruth who also testified that Carruth had confessed to her that he had been involved in the shooting.

After calling several of Carruth's friends to testify that he wanted the baby, and had no ill-will towards Cherica Adams, the defense took the unusual step of bringing Brett Watkins to the stand. Such was Watkins's reputation for impulsive violence that a deputy was positioned between the witness box and Judge Lamm, on the one side, and another between Watkins and the jury on the other. During a full day of confrontational examination, Rudolph attempted to get Watkins to admit that the killing had occurred because Carruth had refused to finance a drug deal. Watkins, however, insisted that he had been hired by Carruth, first with the idea of beating up Cherica so that she would lose the baby, but then to kill her.

The next day the defense introduced testimony from a prison officer, Sergeant Shirley Riddle, who testified that she had had a conversation with Watkins in jail at the time of Cherica Adams's death. In this conversation he had confessed to the shooting, but had also told her that he had pulled alongside Cherica Adams's car in order to try to get her to tell him where Carruth was going. When she made an obscene gesture at him, he said that he had "just lost it," and started shooting. According to Sergeant Riddle, Watkins had indicated that it was all about a drug purchase, and that if Carruth had given them the money they wanted, the shooting would not have occurred. Rae Carruth did not testify.

In its rebuttal the prosecution called another former girlfriend of Carruth from Colorado, Amber Turner, who admitted to having had an abortion after Carruth had threatened her life. Turner had been originally listed as a defense witness. Michelle Wright, the mother of Carruth's six-year-old son, also testified to having been threatened by Carruth.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1995 to PresentRae Carruth Trial: 2000-01 - A Promising Football Career Shattered, Cherica Adams Dies And Rae Carruth Flees, Recording Of 911 Call Is Played In Opening Statements