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Carruth To Be Tried Separately

Rae Carruth won his bid Wednesday to be tried separately from two fellow defendants.

Superior Court Judge Charles Lamm scheduled the former Carolina Panther's murder trial for Oct. 23, splitting requests by the prosecution to begin it Oct. 16 and by the defense for Nov. 6.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Carruth, Michael Eugene Kennedy and Stanley Drew Abraham. Kennedy's and Abraham's trials weren't immediately scheduled, but will come after Carruth's, Lamm said.

"We're ready. We want to go quickly," Carruth's lawyer, David Rudolf, said after the hearing. "Mr. Carruth is sitting in jail. He's not guilty and we wanted to get to court. Whether he went first, second or third, the evidence will be the same."

A fourth defendant, Van Brett Watkins, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, admitting he shot Adams, and agreed to testify against Carruth.

Rudolf said the defendants' cases will hinge on accusations against each other.

"Mr. Kennedy has made it clear that 'Mr. Carruth made me do this,' but Mr. Carruth's defense is 'No, I didn't make anybody do this, Mr. Kennedy did this on his own with Mr. Watkins,'" Rudolf said.

"A jury would believe either Kennedy or Carruth. What they could not do is believe both. It is an illogical possibility that they could acquit both."

Carruth has agreed to testify in defense of Abraham, saying they never discussed a killing, Abraham's lawyer James Gronquist said. Gronquist said he might ask for the case against Abraham to be dismissed.

"Our position all along has been unequivically clear - Mr. Abraham had nothing to do with this," Gronquist said. "Carruth would testify and corroborate that he had no discussions with Mr. Abraham, and we think that's a crucial piece of evidence."

Carruth, 26; Kennedy, 25; and Abraham, 19, are charged with murdering Cherica Adams, who was pregnant with Carruth's baby when she was fatally wounded while driving along a Charlotte street in November. Doctors saved the baby, but Adams, 24, died a month later.

Lamm also scheduled a hearing for Oct. 12 on requests by two television stations - joined Wednesday by The Charlotte Observer - to allow photographers in the courtroom during the trials.

In a motion filed Tuesday, Rudolf asked Lamm to reject requests by Court TV and WSOC-TV to televise the trial. He said cameras could distract witnesses and contribute to tabloid sensationalism.

"A 30-second sound bite on your nightly news it's up to an editor to decide how to present that," Rudolf said Wednesday.

In his request to televise the trial, Douglas Jacobs, Court TV's executive vice president and general counsel, said Court TV has covered more than 700 trials in its 10-year history.

"No verdict has evebeen reversed as a result of Court TV's coverage of a trial," Jacobs wrote. "Moreover, Court TV has received favorable comments from over 95 percent of the judges presiding over these trials, and Court TV personnel have been praised regularly for their professionalism and courtesy."

William Bruce, WSOC-TV's news operations manager, wrote that he has set up, operated and supervised the televising of more than a dozen criminal trials in Mecklenburg County.

"There has never been an incident where any rule or directive of the court has been violated," Bruce wrote.

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