Triggerman in death of former Panthers WR Rae Carruth’s girlfriend dies in prison


The man hired to kill the pregnant girlfriend of former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth has died, according to prison records.

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Van Brett Watkins, 63, died on Dec. 3, according to North Carolina Department Of Adult Correction online records.

Watkins was sentenced to more than 50 years in prison for the murder of Cherica Adams, WSOC-TV reported.

Adams, 24, was eight months pregnant with Carruth’s child in 1999 when he plotted to have her killed, according to the television station. She was shot on Nov. 16, 1999, shortly after Adams and Carruth left a movie and were traveling in separate vehicles. A car driven by one of Carruth’s friends, Michael Kennedy, drove next to Adams’ car and Watkins allegedly opened fire, court records show.

Adams died on Dec. 14, 1999. The victim’s child, Chancellor Adams, survived the shooting, WSOC reported.

Kennedy spent 10 years, nine months in prison before he was released in 2018, WSOC reported.

Carruth, a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers from 1997 through 1999, was acquitted of first-degree murder but was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, discharging a firearm into occupied property and using an instrument with intent to destroy an unborn child, according to the television station.

Adams’ mother, Saundra Adams, said she was surprised to learn about Watkins’ death.

“It’s no coincidence that to me he passed away 24 years ... after he took my daughter’s life, and that Chancellor is now 24 years old,” Saundra Adams told WSOC.