Judge rules 911 tape entered properly

Updated: March 21, 2005, 2:50 PM ET
Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Former Carolina Panthers player Rae Carruth was denied a request for a new trial in the 1999 shooting death of his pregnant girlfriend.

Judge Charles C. Lamm Jr. on Monday rejected defense arguments that a 911 call made by Cherica Adams moments after her shooting should not have been allowed into evidence at Carruth's 2000 trial.

Lamm's six-page ruling concluded that the tape of the call was properly introduced and did not violate Carruth's constitutional right to be able to confront his accuser.

The former wide receiver is serving a sentence of at least 18 years and 11 months at Nash Correctional Institution, about 55 miles from Raleigh.

Adams was eight months pregnant with Carruth's baby when she was gunned down in a drive-by shooting on Nov. 16, 1999, in Charlotte. Doctors saved her son, Chancellor, in an emergency Caesarean. Adams, shot four times, died a month later. As she lay wounded in her car, Adams called 911 for help and implicated Carruth in the shooting.

Carruth was arrested and charged with hiring shooter Van Brett Watkins and another man, Michael Eugene Kennedy, to get rid of Adams because he did not want to pay child support for the baby she was carrying.

In January 2001, a jury found Carruth guilty of conspiring to murder Adams, shooting into her occupied vehicle and attempting to kill her unborn child. They acquitted him of a charge of first-degree murder that could have led to a death sentence.

In their appeal March 11, Carruth's lawyers argued that the questions a 911 operator asked Adams served to gather information for police and prosecutors and should not have been allowed into evidence because it was not possible to cross-examine Adams about her responses. Lamm, who presided over Carruth's trial, disagreed in Monday's ruling.

The state appeals court denied Carruth a new trial in 2003 and the state Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court have refused to hear his case.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press