In roughly eight months, ex-Carolina Panthers receiver Rae Carruth is set to be released from a minimum security prison, after serving 17 years for conspiracy to murder his pregnant girlfriend. He had originally been handed an 18-to-24 year sentence.
For those in need of a refresher, on November 16, 1999, Carruth's girlfriend, Cherica Adams, was shot four times by a man that Carruth had hired. That man, Van Brett Watkins, received a 40-year sentence for his role in the grisly murder, while Michael Kennedy, the man who drove the car Watkins was in, was released from prison in 2011.
At the time of the shooting, Adams was eight months pregnant, and doctors were able to save the boy's life after performing an emergency C-section. A month later, Adams passed away as a result of the shooting, and their newborn son, Chancellor Lee Adams, was also diagnosed with cerebral palsy and brain damage due to his traumatic birth. Now Carruth wants custody of the son he almost killed nearly two decades ago.
On Monday, it was reported that Carruth had sent a 15-page handwritten letter to Cherica's mother, Saundra Adams. That letter was then sent to Charlotte-based TV station WBTV. In addition to sending that letter, Carruth also spoke to that station by phone, which is where he expressed interest in getting custody of his now 18-year-old son.
"I'm apologizing for the loss of her daughter. I'm apologizing for the impairment of my son," he told the station. "I feel responsible for everything that happened. And I just want her to know that truly I am sorry for everything."
Saundra has been raising Chancellor since his birth. Previously, she had expressed a desire to be in attendance on the day that Carruth is released. Carruth made sure to speak about that arrangement with WBTV.
"I should be raising my son. His mother should be raising her son," he said in comments that are unlikely to go over well with the general public. "Ms. Adams should not be doing this and I want that responsibility back."
"I feel like he might not ever have his mother in his life but he could still have me and I could still make a difference and I don't think that's anyone's responsibility when I'm still here."
On Monday, Saundra Adams told The Charlotte Observer that she won't relinquish custody of Chancellor.
"I've forgiven Rae already, but to have any type of relationship with him, there does have to be some repentance," she said. "And I think this opens the door. But I can say definitively he's not ever going to have custody of Chancellor.
Adams explained that she plans to continue raising Chancellor until her death, at which point he'll be raised "by someone else who loves him and who knows him." Adams emphasized that Chancellor "will never be raised by a stranger -- someone he doesn't know and who tried to kill him."
In the intro to Carruth's letter, he wrote that its purpose was to contest the "truthfulness of the statements" that Saundra has made against him. He claimed that she "lied" several times about him, including her belief that he's never been apologetic for his role in the shooting. He says that he's apologized many times through prison correspondence letters.
Carruth also challenges Saundra's view of what his relationship with her daughter was, writing that "me and your daughter were practically strangers" outside of their physical relationship. He also said the shooting had nothing to do with child support, which he says was never brought up as an issue, and was instead because Cherica had refused to have an abortion.
"If I could change anything, I'd change the whole situation," the 44-year-old wrote. "His mother would still be here and I wouldn't be where I'm at. So that's what I'd want to change. I want the incident to never have happened at all."
Carruth also expressed the love he has for his son. "I let him down as he came into this world and the only way that I can make that right, the only way I can work out my relationship with my son, is to be there for him and to be a father and a dad to him going forward," he wrote.
For a barometer of what kind of response Carruth is getting, look no further than social media: