NORTH CAROLINA -- Nearly two decades after hiring men to kill his pregnant girlfriend, former NFL wide receiver Rae Carruth walked out of prison a free man.
Just after 8 a.m. Monday, the Carolina Panthers' 1997 first-round draft pick walked out of the prison gate from Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton, North Carolina, after completing his sentence. He got into a white SUV and drove off.
Carruth, now 44, was found guilty in 2001 for conspiracy to murder his pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams, in 1999 to avoid paying child support.
An official with the NC Department of Public Safety said Carruth will have nine months of post release, which means he'll have to meet certain requirements such as meeting with a probation officer.
Carruth hired Van Brett Watkins and Michael Kennedy to kill Adams, who was pregnant with Carruth's child at the time. Adams was shot four times while driving her car, but managed to make a 911 call that helped implicate Carruth.
Adams fell into a coma and died less than a month later after the shooting.
Due to the shooting, Adams' child was born prematurely. That child, Chancellor Lee Adams, has cerebral palsy and currently lives in Charlotte with his maternal grandmother, Saundra Adams.
After initially saying he would like to have custody of Chancellor, Carruth changed his mind, saying he would not attempt to pursue a relationship with his son after being released from prison.
Still, Carruth said he wants to "make amends with Chancellor and try to be the father that I should have been from day one."
Watkins remains in jail serving his 40-year prison sentence for killing Adams. Kennedy, who drove Watkins to commit the crime, was released from prison in 2011.