Damning Testimony at Carruth Murder Trial

ByPaul Nowell

C H A R L O T T E, N.C., Dec. 20, 2000 -- The man who admitted shooting RaeCarruth’s pregnant girlfriend testified today that the formerNFL player spent months planning the contract killing of ChericaAdams.

Van Brett Watkins was called by the defense to try to shore upits contention that Watkins shot Adams impulsively and on his own.But that’s not the testimony that defense lawyer David Rudolf gotfrom 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 killthe 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 wasgetting an accurate picture of a violent career criminal who haslied 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 ofplotting the shooting and could be sentenced to execution ifconvicted of murder.

Watkins insisted he was referring to Carruth, not the dyingAdams, when he told a detention officer in jail he hoped “thebitch dies.”

He said he was angry because he felt Carruth wouldn’t takeresponsibility for his part in the shooting, and explained thegender discrepancy in the slur by saying “the insult doubles” ifthe word is aimed at a man.

“[Carruth] didn’t stand up. I stood up for mine,” Watkinssaid, pointing his finger at the defendant. “He made me do it. Itwas Rae Carruth I was referring to.”

Watkins denied the claim of a jailhouse officer who said Watkinsstated he shot Adams not because Carruth paid him, but because hewas angry with the couple.

The deputy said Watkins was mad at Carruth for backing out of adrug deal and shot Adams when she made an obscene gesture at him ashe drove beside her car.

Rudolf had sought to introduce the deputy’s notes of thediscussion, which Carruth’s team said went to the heart of thedefense. But when Lamm insisted on first hearing from Watkinsoutside the jury’s presence, Rudolf dropped his request and calledWatkins himself to the stand.

Watkins’ Criminal Record Introduced

Security was tight in the courtroom for Watkins’ testimony, withat least six deputies present at all times. Apparently at JudgeCharles 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 fromstabbing his older brother to pistol-whipping an Atlanta man.

“All the people I seemed to have threatened I didn’t do nothingto them,” Watkins said.

“I believe the guy you pistol-whipped might disagree withthat,” 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 agreedto plead guilty to second-degree murder for shooting Adams andto 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.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events