Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth has broken a 17-year silence and has apologized from behind bars for his role in the death of Cherica Adams.
In a letter to and later a phone interview with Charlotte television station WBTV this month, Carruth said he “feels responsible” for both the death of Cherica Adams in 1999 and the fact that his son Chancellor Lee Adams was born with cerebral palsy as a result of his mother’s gunshot wounds.
Carruth said in the same interview that he wants to have custody of his son, who is now 18 years old and has been raised by his maternal grandmother from birth.
Saundra Adams, Chancellor Lee’s grandmother and caregiver, told the Observer Monday that would never happen. But, she said, she was pleased that Carruth had finally admitted responsibility for her daughter’s death.
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“I’ve forgiven Rae already, but to have any type of relationship with him there does have to be some repentance,” Adams said. “And I think this opens the door. But I can say definitively he’s not ever going to have custody of Chancellor. Chancellor will be raised either by me or, after I’m gone, by someone else who loves him and who knows him. He will never be raised by a stranger – someone he doesn’t know and who tried to kill him.”
Carruth said in the phone interview with WBTV: “I should be raising my son. His mother should be raising her son. Ms. Adams should not be doing this and I want that responsibility back.”
Carruth was convicted in 2001 for orchestrating a murder conspiracy in which he hired a hitman, Van Brett Watkins, to shoot and kill Adams – who was seven months pregnant with Carruth’s child. The motivation: The former Carolina Panthers first-round draft pick didn’t want to pay child support.
Carruth, who did not testify at his murder trial, also would not talk specifically about the case with WBTV. But he did say that he has apologized to Adams before and wanted to do so again.
“I’m apologizing for the loss of her daughter. I’m apologizing for the impairment of my son,” Carruth said. “I feel responsible for everything that happened. And I just want her to know that truly I am sorry for everything.”
The release from prison
Carruth is scheduled to be released from prison on Oct. 22. Adams has previously told the Observer she wants to be there on the day he is released. Carruth told WBTV that once he found that out that he sent Adams “visitation” papers so she and Chancellor Lee could come see him earlier – he is in prison at Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton, N.C., about 190 east miles from Charlotte. He said in the letter that he would not participate in a reunion at that time, calling it a “shameful, blatant charade.”
Adams said Monday she never received those visitation papers nor any other letter from Carruth in the past several years, although Carruth told WBTV he has tried to make contact several times with her since then.
“I would welcome receiving some visitation papers from him,” Adams said. “I never have gotten any, but I do welcome a conversation with him. He can have some supervised visitation with his son – I am open to that. I have mixed feelings about him breaking his silence. In some ways, he sounds more mature than he did. I’m glad to hear of the repentance and of his relationship with God. But what I’m also hearing is some of the same old self-centered Rae.”
Carruth said in the opening of his letter that he has “long accepted my lot as a social pariah” but wrote the letter to “debunk the lies that Ms. Adams continues to tell about me.” He sent the 15-page letter not to Adams directly but instead to WBTV (although Adams now has been provided a copy of it).
‘I was very immature’
Carruth said in his phone interview that he has changed from the young NFL player he was when he was originally convicted. “Back then, I was very immature,” he said. “Very self-centered.” He said he has found God in prison and wants to be involved in his son’s life.
“I feel like I owe Chancellor,” Carruth said. “I let him down as he came into this world and the only way that I can make that right, the only way I can work out my relationship with my son, is to be there for him and to be a father and a dad to him going forward.”
Carruth had not done an interview since 2001, when he spoke to CNN.
Now 44 and a prison barber, Carruth also said in the letter that he and Adams had originally been drawn together in 1999 not by love but by “lust” and that “outside of what we did physically, me and your daughter were practically strangers.”
Adams said Monday: “It may have just been a hook-up for him, but I challenge there was no love between them. I feel like my daughter truly loved him.”