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Charlotte, North Carolina District Attorney Peter Gilchrist Holds News Conference on Rae Carruth Conviction, Sentencing

Aired January 22, 2001 - 12:36 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ROGER COSSACK, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go back to Charlotte for some post-Carruth press conferences, a discussion of his sentencing today. We go there now.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

PETER GILCHRIST, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The jury has spoken and we thank them for their dedication and the time that they invested in this, and the care with which they considered the evidence that was before them. We respect their decision, as we always do.

The family of Cherica Adams is entitled to special recognition. They've borne their grief with dignity. They're wonderful people. In spite of their pain, they've assisted the police and the staff and the district attorney's office. They provided us with counsel and support. They have not been vindictive. Jeff Mooney (ph), Cherica's father; her mother, Saundra Adams; and her stepmother Wanda Mooney (ph), I thank you on behalf of the district attorney's office.

Many of you have been talking in these last months about whether the prosecution would win or lose this case. That's not the job of the prosecutor. Our job, according to our legal ethics of the rules of our profession, is to follow the law, to meet our ethical obligations and do our best to see that justice is done. The job of a defense lawyer is to zealously represent their client, to try to get that client found not guilty or to get the best plea bargain possible. Seeking justice is really not a part of that obligation.

We as prosecutors are required to provide various kinds of evidence to the defense. For example, if during the course of an investigation we discover information from someone who says that they think the defendant is not guilty or tends to show that the defendant is not guilty even though we're convinced that person is not being truthful, we have to provide that information to the defense.

However, reciprocally, if the defense during its investigation finds witnesses who saw the defendant doing exactly what we say the defendant did, and we as the prosecutor are unaware of those witnesses, the defense not only doesn't have to give us that information, but the defense lawyer is prohibited from telling us because his duty is to the client and not to the prosecution or to justice. That, in a nutshell, is hour our adversarial system works. The role and the duties and obligations of a prosecutor are very, very different from those of a defense counsel. Gentry Cauldill (ph), David Graham (ph) and Jack Knight (ph) have been the prosecutors in this case. As you know, they're all assistant district attorneys, and I'm extremely proud of them and admire the way that they've conducted themselves throughout this trial. They've worked day and night for months getting this case ready for trial. They've made sacrifices, as have their families, who have had to deal with their -- not only their absence, but the intense focus that they had when they were home on the case.

They didn't do this case for publicity or money, they did it because it's their profession and their calling to serve this community. Thank you, Gentry, David and Jack.

You may have seen them coming and going to the courtroom, but you've only heard only from them in the courtroom. They were not being evasive or rude. We've had many phone calls asking for interviews. Our office takes very seriously the state bar rules regarding trial publicity. These rules say that lawyers during an investigation or a trial ought to refrain from saying publicly things that are likely to prejudice the trial. This meant that they cannot talk about the character and credibility of witnesses, the witnesses' identity or even expected testimony. They're not supposed to give any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant or to talk about any information that is not likely to be admissible in evidence or that would create a substantial risk to an impartial jury.

Our office has always complied...

COSSACK: We've been listening to Peter Gilchrist, the district attorney from Charlotte, North Carolina, talking about the conviction and sentencing of North Carolina football player Rae Carruth.

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