FBI agents find Carruth hiding in trunk of car

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The Independent Online

Professional American football player Rae Carruth appeared on Thursday in court wearing leg shackles and handcuffs, and agreed to return to North Carolina to face a murder charge in the shooting of his pregnant girlfriend.

Professional American football player Rae Carruth appeared on Thursday in court wearing leg shackles and handcuffs, and agreed to return to North Carolina to face a murder charge in the shooting of his pregnant girlfriend.

The Carolina Panthers wide receiver was captured by the FBI on Wednesday evening, hiding in the trunk of a car in a Wildersville motel parking lot, where he had fled from Charlotte, North Carolina.

At a brief hearing in federal court, Carruth told a U.S. district judge he will not fight efforts to have him returned to North Carolina.

"I'm going to voluntarily go back," he said.

It was unclear when Carruth would be returned to North Carolina, where prosecutors said Thursday they intend to seek the death penalty against Carruth and three co-defendants.

Carruth's girlfriend, Cherica Adams, was 6 1/2 months' pregnant when she was shot Nov. 16, causing doctors to perform an emergency delivery. Her 4-week-old son is listed in fair condition.

When Adams died Tuesday, a first-degree murder warrant was issued against Carruth, who was out on dlrs 3 million bail on conspiracy, attempted murder and related charges.

Despite repeated vows from his mother that he was ready to surrender, Carruth disappeared for more than a day. Carruth's name was entered into the National Crime Information Center computer, which is linked to police across the United States.

Acting on a tip given to Charlotte-Mecklenburg homicide investigators, Carruth was arrested at the motel about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northeast of Memphis, Tennessee. He was accompanied by an unidentified female friend who has not been charged, FBI spokeswoman Joanne Morley said.

Agents checked the room, then found the 5-foot-11 (1.8 meters), 194-pound (87-kilogram) player in the car trunk, the FBI said.

"When she (Carruth's friend) started to open the trunk, she told us he was in there, for his safety," FBI agent Mark Post said. "He just had his hands up in the air."

If convicted of murder, Carruth could be sentenced to death or life in prison.

Three other men charged in the slaying made initial court appearances Thursday in Charlotte on the murder charge. A judge formally revoked bail for Michael Eugene Kennedy, 24; Stanley Drew "Boss" Abraham, 19; and William Edward Watkins, 44. They were charged with first-degree murder Wednesday.

At the hearing, Watkins expressed regret for the death of Adams, who was shot four times in the neck and chest from a passing vehicle as she sat in her car in a Charlotte suburb.

Carruth was in a car near the shooting, and the three other men were in a separate vehicle, talking by cell phone, prosecutors said.

Carruth was the Panthers' first-round draft choice in 1997 out of Colorado.

Early Thursday afternoon, Panthers coach George Seifert announced the team had cut Carruth because he didn't surrender as required. Carruth had been suspended without pay since his arrest.

According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Carruth is the first active NFL player to face a murder charge.

In 1997, Brian Blades of the Seattle Seahawks was found guilty of manslaughter, but the verdict was overturned because a judge said there was not enough evidence to convict.

Retired NFL great OJ Simpson was acquitted in 1995 on murder charges in the stabbing deaths of his ex-wife and her friend. In a civil trial, he was found liable for their deaths and ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages.

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