The man who admitted shooting Rae Carruth’s pregnant girlfriend testified today that the former NFL player spent months planning the contract killing of Cherica Adams.
Van Brett Watkins was called by the defense to try to shore up its contention that Watkins shot Adams impulsively and on his own. But that’s not the testimony that defense lawyer David Rudolf got from the witness, who said he was afraid of Carruth.
“This wasn’t about Cherica Adams. It was about your client,” Watkins said. “This wasn’t a one-day affair. It was six months. He dragged me into something I didn’t want to be involved in.”
Later, Watkins said flatly that Carruth hired him to kill Adams.
“He hired me as a hit man,” Watkins said. “He hired me to kill Cherica Adams and the baby. I couldn’t bring myself to kill the baby. I shot at the top [of the car], not through the door.”
Watkins Denies Conflicting Statement
Outside court during the lunch break, Rudolf said the jury was getting an accurate picture of a violent career criminal who has lied throughout his adult life to try to escape justice.
“He’s a lunatic,” he said.
Adams was eight months pregnant when she was shot Nov. 16, 1999. She died about a month later, after giving birth to Carruth’s son, who is in the custody of her mother. Carruth, 26, is accused of plotting the shooting and could be sentenced to execution if convicted of murder.
Watkins insisted he was referring to Carruth, not the dying Adams, when he told a detention officer in jail he hoped “the bitch dies.”
He said he was angry because he felt Carruth wouldn’t take responsibility for his part in the shooting, and explained the gender discrepancy in the slur by saying “the insult doubles” if the word is aimed at a man.
“[Carruth] didn’t stand up. I stood up for mine,” Watkins said, pointing his finger at the defendant. “He made me do it. It was Rae Carruth I was referring to.”
Watkins denied the claim of a jailhouse officer who said Watkins stated he shot Adams not because Carruth paid him, but because he was angry with the couple.
The deputy said Watkins was mad at Carruth for backing out of a drug deal and shot Adams when she made an obscene gesture at him as he drove beside her car.
Rudolf had sought to introduce the deputy’s notes of the discussion, which Carruth’s team said went to the heart of the defense. But when Lamm insisted on first hearing from Watkins outside the jury’s presence, Rudolf dropped his request and called Watkins himself to the stand.
Watkins’ Criminal Record Introduced
Security was tight in the courtroom for Watkins’ testimony, with at least six deputies present at all times. Apparently at Judge Charles Lamm’s request, one deputy sat between him and Watkins.
Rudolf initially focused on Watkins’ long criminal record, getting him to admit to a number of violent crimes, ranging from stabbing his older brother to pistol-whipping an Atlanta man.
“All the people I seemed to have threatened I didn’t do nothing to them,” Watkins said.
“I believe the guy you pistol-whipped might disagree with that,” Rudolf quickly replied.
“All those people lived the same lifestyle, in the jungle,” Watkins said, turning to the jury. “We’re not like y’all. If you swing in the jungle, you’re going to get hurt.”
Watkins’ appearance came as something of a surprise. He agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder for shooting Adams and to testify for the prosecution, which didn’t call him to the stand.
Both Carruth’s mother and Adams’ stepmother left the courtroom sobbing during the testimony.