Prosecutors intend to seek death penalty against footballer

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The Independent Online

Prosecutors say they intend to seek the death penalty against pro football player Rae Carruth and three co-defendants in the drive-by slaying of his pregnant girlfriend.

Prosecutors say they intend to seek the death penalty against pro football player Rae Carruth and three co-defendants in the drive-by slaying of his pregnant girlfriend.

Carruth, 25, fled arrest in North Carolina after Cherica Adams died of her month-old gunshot wounds Tuesday. He was captured Wednesday by the FBI at a Tennessee motel, where he was hiding in the trunk of a car.

Carruth was charged with conspiracy, attempted murder and related charges following the November 16 shooting, but free on bail. The charges were increased to first-degree murder when the woman died.

Carruth, the Panthers' first-round draft choice in 1997 out of Colorado, was waived by the team Thursday and suspended by the league. He had been suspended by the team without pay since his arrest.

At a bail hearing in Charlotte, North Carolina, for Carruth's co-defendants, District Attorney Gentry Caudill said he would seek the death penalty.

"We anticipate that aggravated circumstances would exist," the prosecutor told a judge.

During a court appearance in Tennessee on Thursday, Carruth, a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers of the US National Football League, said he would not fight efforts to return him to North Carolina to face murder charges.

Ms Adams, 24, died of neck and chest wounds after being shot on November 16 from a passing vehicle in a Charlotte suburb. Immediately after the shooting, doctors performed an emergency Caesarean section. Her 4-week-old son is in fair condition.

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

Investigators have not given a motive for the shooting.

Carruth had attended prenatal care visits with Adams for several months, said her mother, Saundra Adams. About two months ago - around the time a sprained ankle took Carruth out of the Panther's lineup - he stopped accompanying her.

"He seemed to be more pressured after his injury ... more pressured about money and how much the baby was going to cost him," Mrs Adams said.

Her daughter had done well selling real estate and wasn't worried about being able to support the child.

"She was not going to totally depend on him to support her. She was thinking of having him help," she said. "I mean that's a father's responsibility."

An FBI agent's affidavit, filed with the arrest warrant, said agents learned of Carruth's whereabouts from the bonding company responsible for his $3 million bail.

Carruth was arrested about 100 miles (160 kms) northeast of Memphis. He was accompanied by an unidentified female friend, who has not been charged, said FBI spokeswoman Joanne Morley.

"When she 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."

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