Rae Carruth is acquitted of first-degree murder.
January 20, 2001 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Rae Carruth is acquitted of first-degree murder. Guilty of 3 other charges. Football fans out there: another OJ?
posted by swank6 (18 comments total)
not quite stylish enough
posted by fergy21 at 2:02 PM on January 20, 2001

there are football fans out here?
posted by bluishorange at 2:30 PM on January 20, 2001 [1 favorite]

I think the judge must have screwed up when he instructed the jury. How can someone be innocent of murder but guilty of conspiracy to commit murder? If you're involved in the conspiracy, then you're just as guilty as the person who pulled the trigger, at least as I understand the law. And other things I've read have expressed the same puzzlement.

Regardless, the constitution is quite clear on one point: he can't be tried for murder again. On that he's free and clear.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 2:44 PM on January 20, 2001

I guess they mean just that - he didn't pull the trigger, so he's not gonna get the death penalty. You would think hiring someone to kill someone would be just as bad as killing the person yourself in the eyes of the law. Maybe not.
posted by swank6 at 3:07 PM on January 20, 2001

Rae Carruth, Ray Lewis, OJ. The football murder trifecta.
posted by owillis at 4:23 PM on January 20, 2001

Some state codes specifically include contract killings in their homicide clause, e.g. "shall murder or cause to be murdered" that sort of thing. NC doesn't seem to.
posted by dhartung at 6:16 PM on January 20, 2001

FYI: Ray Lewis was never convicted, in fact, he was freed due to lack of evidence.
posted by Bag Man at 9:55 PM on January 20, 2001

No one said he was convicted. We just know he should have been. But, of course, all are fine examples for young kids idealizing football players and the NFL.
posted by moural at 10:08 PM on January 20, 2001

I thought the story behind this murder was that Carruth owed money to a few drug dealers, and didn't pay. His lack of payment led to the murder of his girlfriend (wife?).

He didn't know about it, or plan it, but of course it's still part of his fault.
posted by Mark at 11:06 PM on January 20, 2001

The story behind the murder is that his girlfriend got pregnant and he had her killed because he didn't want to pay child support. Yuck.
posted by Jeanne at 6:10 AM on January 21, 2001

FYI: Ray Lewis was never convicted, in fact, he was freed due to lack of evidence.

Ray Lewis pled guilty to obstructing justice and was sentenced to probation. He admitted that he told people with him to lie after they were involved in the stabbing deaths of two men outside an Atlanta nightclub at 4 a.m. after the 2000 Super Bowl. He claims not to have seen which members of his entourage stabbed the men, but I think it's interesting to note that the white suit he wore that evening has never been found.
posted by rcade at 8:48 AM on January 21, 2001

Lewis also admitted giving a false statement to police after the murders. One of the victims never got to see the birth of his child. Ray's quite a role model ... at best, he's a person who tried to cover up a double homicide.
posted by rcade at 8:50 AM on January 21, 2001

Good thing he's in the Super Bowl this year. Whew!
posted by Mark at 11:06 AM on January 21, 2001

"Y'all must be trippin'. I'm O.J. because I went clubbing with friends at the Super Bowl and there was a fight outside the nightclub? Just because I was there, I was the one holding the knife? I'm a murderer? Ninety-nine percent of the players in the league could have found themselves in the exact same situation, but now I was the one representing out-of-control athletes? I wasn't a middle linebacker anymore. I was a symbol.."

--Ray Lewis

What's even more appalling to me than the fact that football players seem to get away with murder is the illumination that this casts, even indirectly, on the poor quality of counsel that most afro-American defendants in the US receive. Any other black man accused of what OJ, Lewis, and Carruth were accused of would have been convicted (with a few notable [rich] exceptions, of course). I have no qualms saying so.
posted by norm at 12:23 PM on January 21, 2001

Regardless of whether or not he did it (and a dying woman's voice can hardly be discounted, if you ask me), it all boils down to the jury knowing that their guilty verdict on that charge could very well end a man's life. Yes, juries are asked that all the time. Yes, they should be expecting that. But when it comes down to it, if you have any waffling tendencies over the death penalty (and god knows I do), you're going to opt against it if possible. He was found guilty on the two other charges, which is probably as far as they felt they could go with it... the prosecution made no bones about the fact that they wanted to go for the death penalty if he were found guilty. He's a shithead who had his wife killed and would've done the same to that other gal who was on the stand, and will probably do the same to all the other girls he takes up with in his future. Plain and simple. Let's just hope this gives him enough press so that women know what he looks like and can avoid any contact with him whatsoever.

And yes, money and fame have a lot to do with it too, but I don't think the jury was thinking of this thug as a world-class athlete that must be protected from the harsh realities of the dubious American justice system. In my book, if this trial were held in a state with no death penalty, they'd have gotten a guilty verdict on that third charge with no deadlock whatsoever.
posted by evixir at 8:17 PM on January 21, 2001

Evixir, I'm not sure of the details of state law in North Carolina. There are two possibilities if he had been convicted of murder.

First, during the penalty phase of the trial the jury would again deliberate and then recommend what they think the penalty should be. That is the point where misgivings about the death penalty should be expressed.

Second, in some states the penalty is decided by the judge, in which case the jury would not really be responsible for that.

But their sworn duty is to decide guilt or innocence based on the evidence presented to them, and to not let any other factors affect their decision. If they in fact did what you said, they violated their oaths.

On the other hand, it's not uncommon in states which require unanimity from a jury for this kind of decision to be the result of a compromise between those not even convinced of guilt and those who believe every charge. I think that may be what actually happened, because at one point they reported to the judge that they were hung, and he told them to keep trying. So this may be the result of a compromise, which would explain why it doesn't make complete sense.

That is one of the reasons why I'm in favor of non-unanimous decisions. I grew up in Oregon, and there a vote of 10-2 for conviction or 9-3 for acquittal is enough. There's no indication that it leads to injustice any more than trials in other states, and there are a lot fewer hung juries and mistrials.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:51 PM on January 21, 2001

I was under the impression that juries can only recommend penalties, but are not the final say-so on what is the actual penalty handed down -- that that was left up to the judge in the case. Maybe I've been watching too much L.A. Law? Seems to me like it used to be that juries decided the punishment in civil cases but not criminal ones, that they made recommendations for punishment in criminal cases but were left to decide for themselves what types of monetary awards were handed down in civil cases.

Am I mistaken in my assumption that states with the death penalty require unanimity from all juries in which an offense punishable by death penalty is in question? I can understand the motivation for unanimity, but it's not an indication of innocence if you can't get 12 people to agree on something. Perhaps if they were to limit it to at least 8-4 for conviction, that'd help the situation.

Looks like I need to go back and take that criminal law class after all...
posted by evixir at 7:16 AM on January 22, 2001

I don't believe that Oregon requires a unanimous jury even for capital offenses. I do know that when the death penalty was reinstated in Oregon, part of the law was that every case which ends in a sentence of death is automatically reviewed by the state Supreme Court.

Also, when the non-unanimous jury rule was passed in Oregon, they deliberately made it asymmetric. It takes 10 jurors to convict but only 9 to acquit.

The jury does recommend a penalty; the judge has last word on that. (And in some states the jury isn't even involved in that stage of the trial.) But generally if the judge changes the jury's recommendation, it's to make it more lenient. But that's just my impression from reading news accounts; I have no statistics to back that up.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:44 AM on January 22, 2001

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