Former Carolina Panthers receiver Rae Carruth released from prison after 18 years

Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth is a free man. Carruth was released from prison on Monday after serving just under 18 years for conspiring to murder the mother of his unborn child.

Carruth, convicted in January 2001, was released from Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton, N.C., this week following a completion of his sentence of 18 to 24 years. He left the prison without speaking to reporters. He will begin a nine-month post-release program immediately.

Carruth was a first-round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers in 1997 following an impressive career as a wideout at the University of Colorado. He appeared to have a promising NFL career ahead of him. But during his third season with the Panthers, he was involved in a shocking murder-for-hire plot that brought his football career to an immediate halt.

He was found guilty of orchestrating the November 1999 murder of Cherica Adams, who was eight months pregnant with Carruth’s child. Carruth, then 25, paid Van Brett Watkins $6,000 to kill Adams so that he could avoid paying child support. Adams was shot four times, but she was able to implicate Carruth via a 911 call before falling into a coma. She died less than a month later. 

Doctors were able to save the life of the child, Chancellor Lee Adams, who was delivered by emergency cesarean section. The 18-year-old suffers from permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy due to being deprived of oxygen in the minutes after Adams’ shooting.

Now 44 years old, Carruth has said that he would like to be involved in his son’s life. Saundra Adams — Cherica’s mother and Chancellor Lee’s grandmother — has raised the child since birth and was not present as Carruth was released Monday.

Watkins, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, will not be eligible for release until 2046.

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