Even though he was at the scene of the crime, Chancellor Lee Adams couldn't testify in the death penalty trial of his famous father, former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth.
Chancellor, now called Chance, was still in the womb when his football hero dad led his mother, Cherica Adams, into a deadly ambush of gun fire. Though Cherica was mortally wounded, doctors performed an emergency Caesarean section and Chance, now 14 months old, survived.
In never-before-seen home video obtained by 20/20, Caruth's son can barely stand or hold a bottle on his own. When he was delivered a month prematurely, he was blue and weighed only 3 pounds. He will forever suffer from cerebral palsy due to the traumatic nature of his birth.
'Bam Bam Bam Bam'
On Monday, a North Carolina judge sentenced Carruth to at least 18 years in prison for conspiracy to kill his pregnant girlfriend.
According to prosecutors, the heinous act was carried out on a dark stretch of road, shortly after midnight Nov. 16, 1999. Carruth led the way driving his white Expedition. Cherica Adams, eight months pregnant, followed in her black BMW. Behind her, three assassins, waited for Carruth's signal, pulled up beside Adams' car, and opened fire.
In dramatic testimony, the man who fired the gun, Van Brett Watkins, described the scene to the court. "Bam bam bam bam. She was screaming. She was drowning in her own blood," says Watkins. Watkins, who made a deal with the court to save his own life, testified that Carruth put him up to the hit.
A Desperate Call
But the most effective witness was Adams herself. When the recording of her 911 call was played in the courtroom, it was like a voice from the grave, coming back to haunt her killers.
"I've been shot. I've been shot," The courtroom heard Cherica tell dispatchers.
"I was following my baby's daddy," she continues, "Rae Carruth the football player. He was in the car in front of me and he slowed down and somebody pulled up besides me and did this."
Prosecutor Gentry Caudill argued that Carruth left the scene. "When the shooting stopped, Rae Carruth, the football hero, drove away and left Cherica Adams and his own son for dead."
Defense: A Drug Deal Gone Bad
The defense claims the real target that night was Carruth, not Adams. At the trial, they argued that Carruth's alleged accomplices were angry because he refused to finance a drug deal. When Carruth drove away, they pulled up beside Cherica to ask her which way he went, but Cherica made an obscene gesture at them. At that point, the shooter Van Brett Watkins "lost it" and fired the fatal shots.
"This is not about Rae Carruth the man, this is about Rae Carruth the football player, because if you knew my son as Rae Carruth the man, you would know he didn't do this," Theodry Carruth says.
Theodry says of her son, "Rae is a perfect gentleman. He loves kids. He loves animals. He's funny. I think his only sin is he's handsome. And Rae knew how to treat a woman."
Carruth and Adams met in 1998. She was a model and they were intrigued with one another right away.
Adams soon discovered she was pregnant with the football player's child. Cherica's mother Saundra Adams claims her daughter refused Carruth's request that she abort the pregnancy. She thinks that is when he started to form his plan to have his girlfriend murdered.