Rae Carruth, N.F.L. Player Who Conspired to Kill Girlfriend, Is Out of Prison

Rae Carruth, N.F.L. Player Who Conspired to Kill Girlfriend, Is Out of Prison

Rae Carruth, the former Carolina Panthers receiver who was convicted of conspiring to kill his pregnant girlfriend, was released from prison on Monday after 18 years 11 months.

Mr. Carruth, now 44, was sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison in 2001 after being convicted of offering $5,000 to another man to kill his pregnant girlfriend, Cherica L. Adams, in North Carolina in 1999.

Ms. Adams was shot and killed in a drive-by attack by the man, Van Brett Watkins.

Mr. Carruth was on hand, the police said, and used his car to block Ms. Adams’s car and facilitate the shooting. He skipped bail after his arrest and was eventually found hiding in a car trunk in a Best Western parking lot in Tennessee.

Mr. Carruth was acquitted of first-degree murder, which could have brought a life sentence or the death penalty.

Ms. Adams was eight months pregnant when she was shot. Prosecutors said Mr. Carruth had been motivated by not wanting to pay child support.

The fetus survived the shooting and was delivered via an emergency cesarean section, 10 weeks premature. The child, Chancellor, is now 18. He has brain damage and cerebral palsy stemming from injuries sustained in the shooting. Mr. Watkins remains in prison on a minimum 40-year term.

“I’m grateful to be ending this and getting out of here, but at the same time I have to admit I am ashamed and embarrassed to have even been associated with this crime,” Mr. Carruth told WSOC-TV in Charlotte before his release.

Referring to Saundra Adams, Cherica’s mother, who has raised Chancellor, he said: “I’ve apologized to Ms. Adams for the loss of her daughter and taken responsibility for what happened. I’d love the opportunity to make things right with her and Chancellor.”

“I just truly want to be forgiven,” he added. “He will never have his mother in his life. Right or wrong, he still has the opportunity to have me in his life.”

Mr. Carruth did not comment to reporters when he left prison on Monday morning.

“I want him to come to repentance,” Ms. Adams told The Charlotte Observer, adding: “Rae would never come back here and do anything, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t send someone. So I am a little anxious.”

Mr. Carruth was a first-round pick out of the University of Colorado, then spent three seasons with the Panthers. As a rookie he caught four touchdown passes, but he was plagued by injuries his next two seasons.

He was released from Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton, N.C.

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