Updated: 3:08 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, 2003 | Posted: 5:54 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2003

Van Brett Watkins: A Killer Speaks Out

    RALEIGH, N.C. —

    "I could rip you apart like a rag doll."

    That is how you probably remember Van Brett Watkins, the man who shot Rae Carruth's pregnant girlfriend to death.

    Watkins was convicted back in April 2001 for shooting Cherica Adams to death.

    Eyewitness News has learned Watkins violent behavior hasn't stopped, even behind bars.

    Locked away in Raleigh's Central Prison, Van Brett Watkins spends 23 hours a day in a 7-by-10-foot cell with only a narrow view of the outside and his own troubled thoughts to befriend him. Interview With Van Brett Watkins: Part I Interview With Van Brett Watkins: Part II "I think of my whole life every day as a man dying. They say, well, his whole life flashes in front of him. This occurs for me every day," Watkins said.

    Watkins said he's been in more than a dozen fights and the latest landed him in solitary confinement for at least the next six months of his 50-year sentence.

    And yet he bristles at his image as a dangerous man.

    "Do you think you're a scary guy?" asked reporter Jim Bradley.

    "Naw. I'm scary if you're scared. I'm scary if you're violating me. OK? But, I'm the nicest guy in the world if everything's all good.

    "If everything's all good for you ... you're a nice guy?" Bradley asked.

    "No, everything's all good ... period," he added.

    "But look at your life, Mr. Watkins -- that doesn't suggest that you're a nice guy. It suggests that you're a pretty violent guy.

    "What happens to make you violent?" Bradley furthered.

    "If I'm pushed, I go forward. I don't want to curse on camera, but I don't take nothing, OK. You're not going to do nothing to me," Watkins said.

    Watkins said he's now a Muslim and finding peace in the Koran.

    " (I'm praying) and ask (God's) forgiveness five times daily and ask him not to send me to hell for the sins I committed in this life," he added.

    "Do you think you're ever going to get out of here?" Bradley asked.

    "Well I know I'm never, ever, ever gonna get out of prison. I know that I'm gonna die in prison. So you did kill me. When I say you ... society.

    "Well some people might say you did it yourself, Mr. Watkins," Bradley stated.

    "I did do it myself. But part of being a man is recognizing what you did. Yea, I did it," Watkins added.

    It's difficult for most of us to imagine a life where freedom can be seen, but never tasted.

    "The only time you start really knowing what life is about is when it is tooken from you. So really, you're talking to a dead man," Watkins added.

    Van Brett Watkins is a man serving two sentences. One imprisons his body, the other shackles his mind with the vivid and violent memories of murder.

    "I cant describe it. It was nothing. You can't put feeling or words to it. There's no way I could translate into your language what I felt," Watkins said.

    Bradley asked Watkins about the lives he changed by shooting and killing Adams. It is a legacy of pain for Adams' mother Saundra and son Chancellor that Watkins insists haunts him daily.

    "Every day I think of Mrs. Adams. Every day I think of Chancellor, and every day I think of Cherica Adams and the wrong that I did," Watkins said.

    In an hour-long conversation, the Adamses are the one subject that seems to send Watkins inward. It is an odd mixture of defiance and doubt.

    "I'm a real man. I don't care what this guy thinks or what you think. I care what Ms. Saundra Adams thinks ... her family ... Chancellor. Ain't nobody else's business," he added.

    The lives of Saundra and Chancellor have been intensely private. Few pictures of Chancellor have been made public.

    Van Watkins is painfully aware that the bullets he fired that killed Cherica Adams have left Chancellor with serious health problems.

    "Is it hard for you to think that he's growing up with all those problems?" Bradley asked.

    "That's the hardest part. Once a month I write Ms. Adams. And if I got $10, I send $5 to her to help pay them bills for Chancellor, OK?" Watkins stated.

    "If you had a chance to say something to Chancellor, what would you say?" Bradley asked.

    "Don't trust your father son," Watkins replied.

    And what of Rae Carruth, the former NFL star convicted of leading the conspiracy to murder Chancellor's mother?

    Van Brett Watkins wishes he could rewind the tape and replay his life that night.

    "If I could change things ... I should have killed him," Watkins said.

    Instead, Watkins and Carruth pay their penalties. They are away and out of our view for years to come.

    Bradley spoke with Saundra Adams this week.

    She said she gets a little money every now and then from Watkins and she's gotten a letter from Carruth.

    She responds to neither one of them, on the advice of her attorney.

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