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After Nearly 2 Decades In Prison, Rae Carruth Is Released

North Carolina Department of Public Safety
After nearly 19 years, Rae Carruth will leave Sampson Correctional Institute a free man.

Former Carolina Panthers receiver Rae Carruth was 25 years old the day a Mecklenburg County jury found him guilty of conspiring to kill Cherica Adams in 2001. He’s 44 now and Monday morning was released from the Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton, North Carolina.

On Nov. 16, 1999, Adams was shot four times by a hitman hired by Carruth. She had been driving down Rea Road, following the former Panthers player home from the movies. Adams was six months pregnant at the time. She died a month later at the age of 24.

Their son, Chancellor Adams, survived the shooting, but was born prematurely and suffered permanent brain damage. Chancellor, 18, lives with Cerebral Palsy and is being raised by his grandmother.

Prosecutors at Carruth’s trial said the football player didn’t want Adams to have the baby and had asked her to get an abortion, but she refused.

“He intended that child never come into this world,” prosecutor Gentry Caudill told jurors in his closing argument. “I ask you to hold him responsible for what he did, for what Cherica saw him do.”

The prosecution relied heavily on Adams’ 911 call immediately after she was shot to point to Carruth’s involvement in her death. In the call, Adams told police that Carruth had been driving in front of her and had slowed down before the shooting. Prosecutors argued that he blocked Adams car so the hitman could shoot her.

Carruth was arrested twice, once after the shooting but then he was released on $3 million bond. He then went into hiding for a month but was captured by authorities in Tennessee.

In September 2001, a Mecklenburg County jury sentenced Carruth to 18 to 24 years in prison.

Carruth told WSOC Sunday that he’s feeling mixed emotions about his release.

“I’m excited about being out of here, but I’m nervous just about how I’ll be received by the public,” he said. “I still have to work, I have to live, I have to exist out there and it just seems like there’s so much hate and negativity towards me.”

He also said that he wants to know his son — a step Saundra Adams, Chancellor’s grandmother, has made clear in media interviews she’s not ready to take.