The former first-round draft pick was released from Sampson Correctional Institution in North Carolina early Monday.
“I’m excited about just being out of here,” he told WSOC by phone a few days before his release. “I’m nervous just about how I’ll be received by the public. I still have to work. I still have to live. I have to exist out there and it just seems like there is so much hate and negativity toward me.”
Carruth had completed his sentence of 18 to 24 years. He did not speak to reporters as he left the prison on a chilly morning.
Now 44, Carruth was found guilty of orchestrating a plot to kill Cherica Adams to avoid paying child support. Adams was shot four times on Nov. 16, 1999 while driving her car in Charlotte, but managed to make a 911 call that pointed the finger at the NFL player.
Adams, eight months pregnant, died less than a month after the shooting. The child she was carrying was delivered, but suffers from permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy.
Carruth has said he wants to have a relationship with son Chancellor, who remains in the custody of his grandmother. Saundra Adams had said she would be there when Carruth got out of prison, but she was not present on Monday.
The former wide receiver was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 1997. Panthers center Frank Garcia said players were stunned when they heard the news of about his possible involvement in the murder.
“It would be like finding out the guy sitting in the cubicle next to you at work was arrested for murder,” Garcia said. “You just don’t always know people as well as you think you do.”
Some players testified at the trial, and others would spend time in the players’ lounge watching it on Court TV.
“That is one time where you were actually hiding from the cameras,” Garcia said. “You just wanted to stay low and not be involved. All along you’re asking yourself, ‘Did I miss any signs? How is somebody capable of this?’”
Carruth worked as a barber while behind bars, making about $ 1 per hour, according to North Carolina Department of Public Safety spokesman Jerry Higgins. He had signed a $ 3.7 million contract with the Panthers after being drafted.