CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Rae Carruth, already facing murder and conspiracy charges, appeared in court Monday on a new charge that he violated a state anti-abortion law by trying to kill his unborn child.
The former Carolina Panthers player told Judge Jerome Leonard at the hearing that he understood the charge. He is to appear in court again Feb. 8.
Carruth, who has hired two lawyers, waived his right to a court-appointed attorney. He is the first active NFL player to be charged with murder.
His mother, Theodry Carruth, declined to comment as she left the courtroom.
The 25-year-old wide receiver is in county jail in connection with the Nov. 16 drive-by shooting of Cherica Adams. The 24-year-old woman soon afterward gave premature birth to Chancellor Adams, Carruth's son. Adams died of her wounds Dec. 14. Chancellor has steadily improved and no longer is hospitalized.
A grand jury last week indicted Carruth and three other men on murder and conspiracy charges in Cherica Adams' death and for violating North Carolina anti-abortion law.
The law says it is illegal to use drugs or "any instrument" with the intent of destroying an unborn child after the first 20 weeks of a mother's pregnancy, unless the pregnancy must be terminated to spare the mother's life.
Adams was shot four times while driving. Prosecutors have said Carruth may have been driving ahead of Adams when a vehicle pulled alongside her and someone opened fire.
Carruth is accused of masterminding the slaying. He and codefendants William Watkins, 44; Michael Kennedy, 24; and Stanley Abraham Jr., 19, all are being held without bail. Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty against the four.
Carruth, drafted out of Colorado in 1997, was waived by the Panthers and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.
DNA test results established Carruth as Chancellor Adams' father. The child's grandmother, Saundra Adams, has temporary custody of the child.