Rae Carruth Trial: 2000-01
The Jury Deliberates
After 11 weeks and 70 witnesses, closing arguments were heard on January 15, 2001. The prosecution played the 911 tape again, and emphasized the record of the long series of phone calls between Carruth and Van Brett Watkins during the weeks before the shooting. For the defense, David Rudolph laid out 10 points, all of which, he argued, presented reasonable doubt about the plausibility of the prosecution case.
The jury began deliberations the following day, but two days later, after 11 hours of discussion, the foreman reported to Judge Lamm that they were split on all four charges. After repeating jury instructions, he told them to keep trying, and on Friday, January 19, the jury returned its verdict, finding Rae Carruth not guilty of first-degree murder, but guilty on the other three charges. He was sentenced to not less than 18 years, 11 months, and not more than 24 years, four months in prison. Under North Carolina sentencing law, apart from credit for any time spent in jail awaiting trial, actual time served cannot be reduced to less than the minimum specified by the judge. Van Brett Watkins was subsequently sentenced to not less than 40 years and five months or more than 50 years and eight months. Michael Kennedy pled guilty to second-degree murder and received a minimum of 11 years and eight months. Abraham pled guilty to lesser charges as an accessory and received 90 days in jail and five years probation.
—David I. Petts
Suggestions for Further Reading
Charlotte Observer Online. www.charlotte.com/observer/specials
Schmitz, Brian. "In Wake of Rae Carruth, has Ray Lewis Learned His Lesson?" Orlando Sentinel (January 19, 2001).
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