Monday, October 13, 2003
Lawsuit by mother of victim went uncontested
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Former Carolina Panthers receiver Rae Carruth and
three men convicted of conspiring to kill Carruth's girlfriend
should be ordered to pay about $5.8 million in damages to her
estate, a lawyer for the girlfriend's mother told a judge Monday.
The request by attorney Billie Ellerbe came during a hearing in
Saundra Adams' wrongful death lawsuit against the men.
All four were found guilty in 2001 of conspiring in the Nov. 16,
1999, shooting of Cherica Adams, who was eight months pregnant with
Carruth's child. She died about a month later; the baby survived
but has cerebral palsy.
None of the defendants contested Adams' lawsuit. Judge Yvonne
Mim Evans said she would consider the issues before making a ruling
on the request for damages.
With Carruth, Van Brett Watkins and Michael Kennedy in prison
and Stanley Abraham unemployed, the prospect of any damage payments
is distant. But Saundra Adams said she pushed forward with her
lawsuit for "justice and closure."
Adams is seeking more than $1.4 million in compensatory damages
for medical bills as well as pain and suffering, and more than $4.3
million in punitive damages.
During the hearing, Abraham, Watkins and Kennedy apologized for
their roles in Cherica Adams' death.
Carruth, the only defendant represented by a lawyer, did not
speak. His criminal conviction remains under appeal, though the
North Carolina Court of Appeals declined to overturn it and the
state Supreme Court recently declined to review the appeals court
Watkins, who has admitted firing the gun that killed Adams, told
Saundra Adams that he has turned down book deals because he does
not want to profit from her anguish.
"When I do get money from my family, I try to help," he said.
"If I do get some, I'll be glad to send you some money."
Saundra Adams said she has received checks for $5 and $10 from
Watkins and believes he is genuinely remorseful.
Cherica Adams, 24, was driving behind Carruth in Charlotte when
she was shot four times. Prosecutors at Carruth's trial said he
slowed to a stop, boxing her in while a car carrying Watkins,
Kennedy and Abraham pulled alongside, allowing Watkins to shoot
into Adams' car.
Carruth was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder,
shooting into an occupied vehicle and using a gun to try to kill
the baby Adams was carrying. He was acquitted of a murder charge
that could have brought the death penalty.
Prosecutors said Carruth hatched the plot after Adams refused to
get an abortion.
Carruth, a former University of Colorado star and first-round
draft pick of the Panthers in 1997, is serving a prison term of 18
years and 11 months.
Watkins was sentenced to at least 40 years in prison. Kennedy is
serving at least 11 years in prison. Abraham spent 18 months in
prison after pleading guilty to several charges.