CHARLOTTE (AP) _ Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth's bid to lower his $3 million bond was denied after prosecutors told a judge he played a pivotal role in the drive-by shooting that critically injured his pregnant girlfriend.

``Rae Carruth was the instigator here,'' Assistant Mecklenburg County District Attorney Gentry Caudill told District Court Judge Phil Howerton Wednesday as Carruth stood beside him wearing an orange jail jumpsuit. ``We are a heartbeat away from a double-murder case.''

After hearing the accusation, Howerton decided to keep Carruth's bond at $3 million.

Carruth and two other men are charged in the shooting of Cherica Adams, 24, who was shot four times Nov. 16 while driving in south Charlotte. Doctors delivered her premature son soon after by emergency Caesarean section. Adams and her baby boy remain in critical condition at Carolinas Medical Center.

``She is in very unstable condition,'' Assistant District Attorney Jack Knight said. ``Her condition has worsened.''

Defense attorney George Laughrun sought a $100,000 bail for Carruth. ``To this day we don't know what the state of North Carolina alleges Rae Carruth's involvement is in this case,'' he said in a packed courtroom. ``We don't know the nature of the evidence against him.''

Last Friday, another judge set bail for Carruth at $1.5 million, then called his attorneys later that day to tell them he was doubling it to $3 million. Laughrun has said he might challenge the legality of that decision in Superior Court.

Arguing against the state's claim that Carruth posed a serious flight risk, Laughrun said his client has strong ties with his job and home in Charlotte. And he cited two high-profile murder cases in Charlotte in which bond was set much lower.

When Howerton pressed prosecutors for more evidence to support their case for maintaining the sizable bond, they said eyewitnesses and direct evidence put Carruth and two other defendants at the scene of the attack.

Carruth's vehicle was traveling in front of Adams' car just before the shooting, the Charlotte Observer reported today. Carruth's truck slowed down, and a third vehicle pulled alongside. Someone inside the third vehicle sprayed Adams' car with bullets.

The newspaper reported that Watkins and Kennedy were two of three people inside the car where the bullets came from. The other hasn't been arrested and has been cooperating with police, the newspaper said.

As he walked off the practice field Wednesday, Panthers coach George Seifert was told that lawyers had described Carruth as playing an integral role in the crime.

``I hope that ultimately it turns out where Rae isn't a part of this, along with hoping that everything turns out well with the victims,'' Seifert said. ``I certainly hope that Rae's not a part of it.''