Originally created 12/07/00

Woman's testimony helps both sides



CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Rae Carruth urged a woman to wait before cooperating with a private investigator involved in his murder case, the woman testified Wednesday.

Prosecutors played a voice mail message that Carruth left on Tanya Ferguson's cell phone on Jan. 10 and that she saved.

"This is Rae," Carruth says in a muted tone on the message, which was difficult to understand in the courtroom. "I need you to do me a favor."

He then asked Ferguson, who was Carolina Panthers linebacker Hannibal Navies' girlfriend, not to cooperate with the private investigator until after she had spoken with Carruth's current girlfriend.

Prosecutor Jack Knight asked Ferguson if she ever did speak to Carruth's current girlfriend. Ferguson responded that she did call the woman back.

"Was a police investigator with you and taping the call when you called her back?" Knight asked.

"Yes," she said, explaining to the jury that she told Carruth's girlfriend she did not make three calls on her cell phone about an hour after the shooting of Cherica Adams. The calls, including ones made to two of Carruth's co-defendants, showed up on Ferguson's cell phone bill.

"Did you offer your phone bill to her?" Knight asked.

"No," she said.

Earlier Wednesday, Ferguson testified she saw Carruth talking on the phone in the living room of Navies' home at about the time the calls were made. When she went to bed about an hour before that, Ferguson left her cell phone, which was identical to Carruth's, in the living room.

Carruth, 26, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of Adams, 24, on Nov. 16, 1999. Adams, who was Carruth's pregnant girlfriend, gave birth to a son, then died a month after the shooting.

Prosecutors say Carruth arranged the drive-by shooting. Three other men also are charged.

Carruth contends he had nothing to do with the shooting. His lawyers claim co-defendant and confessed triggerman Van Brett Watkins acted on his own when he shot Adams because he was angry at her and Carruth over a foiled drug deal.

Ferguson also testified that Carruth was engaged to his current girlfriend. However, Carruth's mother, Theodry Carruth, said her son was not engaged.

When defense attorney David Rudolf questioned Ferguson on Wednesday, she gave sympathetic testimony about Carruth's demeanor during the time when prosecutors contend he was masterminding a plot to kill his pregnant girlfriend.

Ferguson testified that Carruth cracked jokes and spoke on his cell phone when he arrived at Navies' house around the time Adams was shot. He then played video games with his longtime friend, she said.

"Was he upset like someone who had just come from the scene of a contact murder?" Rudolf asked.

"No," she said.

Ferguson, who had met Adams for the first time earlier that night at a movie theater, began talking to Carruth about becoming a father for the second time.

"He said it was a boy and that made him happy," she said. "I told him he already had a son and that he needed a little girl. He said that would probably be good so that he could understand women."

Ferguson said Carruth left Navies' house shortly before 1 a.m. and then quickly returned, telling Navies he needed directions to the hospital because Adams had been shot.

"He became serious," she said, telling jurors that she and Navies also went to the hospital. "He seemed to be in shock, kind of like in a daze."

Later at the hospital, Ferguson testified, Carruth sat on the floor and wept.

The only time he brightened was when Adams' mother showed him a picture of his newborn son. He said, 'Hannibal, look how long he is. He looks like I did as a baby,' Ferguson said.

Later Wednesday, forensic scientist Henry Lee was expected to give a videotaped deposition in the case. He has worked such cases as the O.J. Simpson trial and JonBenet Ramsey investigation.