Panthers Cut off Carruth’s Salary
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ The Carolina Panthers cut off Rae Carruth’s salary Thursday night, one day after authorities said he played a pivotal role in an alleged plot to try to kill his pregnant girlfriend.
The Panthers, who placed Carruth on a paid personal leave after Cherica Adams was critically wounded in a drive-by shooting Nov. 16, said Thursday night they were changing his status to a leave of absence without pay.
``Rae obviously has a lot of concerns to address,″ coach George Seifert said. ``We are not making a judgment on the case, but the situation makes it impossible for Rae to fulfill his contractual obligations.″
Also Thursday night, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police made a fourth arrest in the attack on Adams, who was shot four times from a passing vehicle as she drove through a Charlotte neighborhood. Stanley D. Abraham, 19, of Charlotte, was arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, attempted murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle _ the same charges as Carruth and the other two defendants face.
Seifert said Panthers owner Jerry Richardson made the decision to stop paying Carruth after consulting with team officials as well as NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Gene Upshaw, head of the players’ union. Seifert said Tagliabue and Upshaw supported Richardson’s decision.
Team officials said their move was based in part on a clause in standard NFL player contracts that stipulates that players must be able to perform services for their team.
George Laughrun, Carruth’s attorney, said his client was trying to come to terms with the increasing likelihood that he would not be able to put together the money needed to post his $3 million bond.
``He has adjusted as well as anybody could,″ Laughrun told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday night. ``His attitude is, ‘Let’s wait and see what happens.’ He understands what he’s facing. He understands the long road we’re up against.″
Carruth, a wide receiver drafted by the Panthers in the first round in 1997, is in the third year of a four-year, $3.7 million contract that calls for him to get a 1999 salary of $652,500. That works out to $38,382 for each of the 17 weeks that players are paid during the season.
The team’s decision to cut off Carruth’s salary came one day after Laughrun failed in his bid to get his client’s bond lowered to $100,000. Carruth is being held at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg jail.
When Laughrun went before District Judge Phil Howerton to seek a reduction of the bond amount, prosecutors opposed the move by saying Carruth played a key role in the crime. They also said eyewitnesses and direct evidence put Carruth and the two other defendants at the scene of the attack.
``Rae Carruth was the instigator here,″ Assistant Mecklenburg County District Attorney Gentry Caudill said. ``We are a heartbeat away from a double-murder case.″
Adams and her baby, who was 10 weeks short of full term when he was delivered by emergency Caesarean section shortly after the shooting, remained in critical condition Thursday at Carolinas Medical Center.
Carruth, 25, and two other men were charged last week in the attack on Adams. William Watkins, 44, of Charlotte, and Michael Kennedy, 24, also of Charlotte, face the same three charges as Carruth. Watkins and Kennedy are being held on $1.5 million bond apiece.
Laughrun said it is likely that it would take nearly a year before Carruth’s case reaches trial.
``He understands the time line we’re on and the possibility of having to spend a lot of time behind bars,″ Laughrun said.