After 17 years, former Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth is about to be released from prison

Rae Carruth, the former Carolina Panthers wide receiver, has spent the last 17 years in prison for conspiring to kill his ex-girlfriend.

Rae Carruth
Former wide receiver Rae Carruth (Credit: Jamie Squire /Allsport)

Rae Carruth, the former Carolina Panthers wide receiver, has spent the last 17 years in prison for conspiring to kill his ex-girlfriend. Now, it looks like he will be released from prison on Oct. 22.

Carruth’s ex-girlfriend, Cherica Adams, was seven months pregnant with Carruth’s son on Nov. 16, 1999 when she was shot while driving her BMW in Charlotte, NC. The shooter, Van Brett Watkins, was hired by Carruth, according to Sports Illustrated. Watkins was sentenced to a minimum of 40 years in jail. Michael Kennedy, who drove the car, was released from jail in 2011.

The third-year wide receiver was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child. Adams died a month after she was shot and Carruth faced a first-degree murder charge, but he was found not guilty of that particular charge. Their son, Chancellor Lee Adams, will turn 19 in November. He was born a month prematurely with cerebral palsy, as a result of injuries sustained in the shooting, according to ESPN.

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Carruth was sentenced to 18 to 24 years in 2001 and served his time in the Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton, North Carolina.

In February, Carruth penned a 15-page letter to the victim’s mother, apologizing for the “loss of her daughter” and the “impairment of my son,” as reported by WBTV in Charlotte. In an interview with the TV station, Carruth told WBTV that he desired to form a relationship with Chancellor and to gain custody of his son, who has been raised by his maternal grandmother, Saundra Adams, since birth.

Rae Carruth of the Carolina Panthers looks on from the sidelines during a game against the San Diego Chargers on September 14, 1997 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Craig Jones/Getty Images)

“I should be raising my son,” Carruth told WBTV via phone. “Ms. Adams should not be doing this and I want that responsibility back.”

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Saundra Adams responded in an interview with the Charlotte Observer: “I can say definitively [Carruth’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,” Adams continued. “He will never be raised by a stranger – someone he doesn’t know and who tried to kill him.”