He was a rising NFL star and the first-round draft pick for the Carolina Panthers in 1997.

Former Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth didn’t let anything get in his way on or off the field, not even Cherica Adams, the woman he was dating. She was eight months pregnant with their son when she was killed.

On Nov. 16, 1999, the couple went on their second date to watch a movie at night – “The Bone Collector.”

It was then Carruth’s plan unfolded in tragedy. On Rae Road near Highway 51 in south Charlotte, they were driving in separate vehicles along the dark road.

Carruth stopped ahead of Cherica, forcing her to do the same. A third vehicle pulled up to her car, and a shooter unloaded multiple rounds, four striking the pregnant woman.

Cherica Adams

Carruth fled the scene.

A severely injured Cherica managed to call 911, telling dispatchers Carruth was at the scene of the shooting.

At a hospital, Cherica fell into a coma. Doctors managed to deliver her son, Chancellor Lee Adams. Chancellor did not have enough oxygen going to his brain during delivery and was born with cerebral palsy.

Carruth and his three accomplices were arrested. Carruth posted a $3 million bond and was released from the Mecklenburg County jail. The man accused of being the gunman, Van Brett Watkins, and the other two men who were involved in the murder conspiracy remained in jail.

Cherica died Dec. 14, 1999.

The suspect, Rae Carruth, was nowhere to be found.

Carruth’s mother tipped authorities off, and Carruth was soon apprehended after they found him hiding in the trunk of a car outside of a Tennessee motel.