Rae Carruth Convicted in Murder of Pregnant Girlfriend

By Dave Andrusko

On January 22--on the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade--North Carolina Superior Court Judge Charles Lamm sentenced 27-year-old Rae Carruth to a minimum of 18 years and 11 months in prison for his role in the execution-style murder of his pregnant girlfriend. Miraculously, doctors were able to save Cherica Adams's baby.

The Charlotte Observer reported that Carruth, an ex-football player for the Carolina Panthers, showed no emotion.

Carruth escaped the death penalty because the jury of seven men and five women failed to convict him of first-degree murder in the November 16, 1999, slaying of Cherica Adams, who was eight months pregnant. Thanks to an emergency Caesarean, their child, later named Chancellor, survived. But the 24-year-old Ms. Adams died in the hospital a month after having been shot four times.

On January 17, the jury convicted Carruth of conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and using a gun to try to kill an unborn child [Chancellor]. Judge Lamm sentenced him to serve a term in prison just one year short of the maximum allowed under sentencing guidelines.

Ms. Adams's mother, Saundra Adams, "threw both hands into the air and wept as the judge announced the three guilty verdicts," the Observer reported. "The victim's sister, Jajuana Moonie, sobbed as she leaned on their father."

Prosecutors said that Carruth masterminded the shooting because Ms. Adams wouldn't have an abortion, according to the Observer.

According to the newspaper, several witnesses testified that Carruth opted for killing Cherica after he failed in his first plan: "To have her beaten up so she would have a miscarriage."

Moments before the sentencing, Saundra Adams and Jeffrey Moonie, Cherica's father, implored Judge Lamm not to give Carruth a " little smack on the wrist."

"A young man who had so much going for him - - he committed the ultimate selfish act. He took her life," Moonie said. "I will never get to hear her call her son's name. I no longer have the opportunity to see her grow and mature. I'll never get to watch her stand at the altar."

The case, broadcast on Court TV, lasted three months. The jury deliberated for more than 18 hours over four days before reaching its verdict.

Two of his co-defendants testified against Carruth, whose lawyer said he will appeal the verdict. One of Carruth's ex-girlfriends said that "Carruth confessed involvement in the shooting as they waited at the hospital," the Observer reported. Another girlfriend testified that Carruth "threatened to have her killed if she did not abort a 1998 pregnancy."

After Adams died, Carruth fled to Tennessee. According to the Observer, FBI agents found him "hiding in the trunk of a friend's car at a motel."

On November 16, 1999, Carruth stopped his car in front of Cherica Adams's automobile, according to the call she made to 911, while the gunman pulled up beside her and shot her four times. Doctors say one bullet missed Chancellor by an inch.

In addition, according to prosecutors, before Cherica Adams died she "scribbled notes that apparently suggest Rae Carruth stopped his car in front of hers while a gunman pulled up beside her in a third vehicle on the night of her fatal shooting."

A man who lived near where Cherica Adams was gunned down testified that after the shooting six police cars pulled up to Adams's BMW, whose lights were flashing and horn was blowing. The Observer reported that he testified he heard Ms. Adams say, "I'm pregnant and I'm shot."

At the trial, one of his co-defendants testified that Carruth recruited him to be the driver and gave him $100 to buy a gun the day of the shooting. Another co-defendant said Carruth had planned the killing for months and gave him $5,000 for the attack, the Observer reported.

Very lucky to be alive, Chancellor was delivered a month premature by emergency Caesarean. "Blue from lack of oxygen," Chancellor's "heart almost stopped before doctors could revive him," according to columnist Tommy Tomlinson. The child has brain damage and cerebral palsy.

But the most powerful words the morning of the sentencing were delivered by Saundra Adams. For, as Tomlinson explained, she "was the final witness. And she was speaking for two."

Tomlinson wrote,

"Chancellor, at 14 months old, is not even doing the things that some 4-month-olds do," she said.

"Chancellor can't hold on to his bottle.

"Chancellor can't pick up a spoon and hold a spoon.

"He has trouble even holding a rattle in his hand and rattling."

Tears caught in her throat. But her voice grew stronger.

"He's not sitting up. Talk about first step--he can't even--he's not even near a point of taking a first step."

Her eyes shot toward Carruth, then locked back onto the judge.

"I'm hearing about this guy that loves children. But yet not once in that hospital did he ask me, 'How's my son doing? ' "

According to Tomlinson, Cherica's mother, with the help of Cherica's father and stepmother, will raise their grandson.

Through tears, Saundra Adams said that Chancellor's strength shines through in his daily struggles.

"He is our miracle child. He's got such a strong will, just like his mom."