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June 04, 1998 12:00 AM

Former NFL player Rae Carruth, 26, accused of arranging the killing of his pregnant girlfriend Cherica Adams, 24, in November of 1999, was acquitted in a North Carolina courtroom Friday of first-degree murder but found guilty of c onspiracy and two other charges in her death. Adams, who died one month after the incident (bullets were shot into her car), was seven months pregnant with the former Carolina Panther’s baby. Carruth sat silently and didn’t so much as flinch as the verdicts were read. The decision by the jurors took some 20 hours to reach and came a day after they had told the judge that they were deadlocked. Prosecutors insisted that Carruth hired gunman Van Brett Watkins to kill Adams so that he could avoid child support and sever his ties to the woman. When sentencing takes place, Carruth could receive up to 20 years in prison on the conspiracy conviction. He was also found guilty of shooting into an occupied vehicle and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child. Had he been convicted of first-degree murder, he could have gotten the death penalty under North Carolina law.

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