In 1999, first round NFL draft pick Rae Carruth hired a hitman to kill his then-pregnant girlfriend to avoid paying child support. Although she didn’t die at the time, she later died after giving birth from complications of the attempted murder. A son was born with cerebral palsy as a result of trauma he suffered from the shooting. Carruth was found guilty of conspiring to murder the son’s mother in 2001, and sentenced to serve nearly 19 years in prison. He is scheduled to be released October 18, 2018.
Last month, Carruth expressed his remorse for the killing and his intent to seek custody of his son. But is he even “fit” to care for his disabled son? Texas law says no! Texas law public policy dictates that child custody decisions should be made based on the child’s best interest. A disability adds a special consideration to the already substantial weight of best interest. That consideration is the safety of the disabled child.
When looking to the best interest of a child, courts have traditionally considered about 9 factors announced in Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367 (Tex. 1976). However, the best interest of a child could literally mean anything and everything. For this case with Rae Carruth seeking custody of his disabled son, the primary consideration here should be the concern for the safety of the child. Under Texas law, Carruth would be subject to involuntary termination of his parental rights under 161.001(b)(1)(T)(i) because he was convicted of murdering the child’s mother.
The fact that his rights would be subject to termination defeats his argument for gaining custody of his son. Further, from a best interest of the child standpoint, would it ever be in the best interest to place a child with the parent who is responsible for the death of the other parent? I say that it would not be. There are three factors in particular that would defeat any attempt by Carruth to establish that it is in the best interest of his son to be place with him. Those factors are: (1) the emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future, (2) the emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future, and (3) the stability of the home or proposed placement. The child’s emotional wellbeing would significantly be impaired by being placed with his father and it could create a really dangerous precedent in the law. This child should not be subjected to a constant reminder of the person who murdered his mother. This consideration goes hand and hand with the concern of his physical wellbeing. It has been established that the cause of the child’s disability was caused by the father’s actions. The child suffered an immense strain during his mother’s pregnancy when his father attempted to murder his mother. None of these circumstances point to a placement with Rae Carruth being in the best interest of his son. Lastly, there is a good chance that the father’s home will not be a stable place for the child. Carruth is currently serving a jail sentence for his role in the death of the son’s mother. He literally hired a hit man to kill her because she did not obey his wishes to terminate the pregnancy that resulted in his son. In my opinion, an individual that would go to such lengths is not a very stable person. The child would likely suffer immensely in the home of such an unstable person. Therefore, it would be contrary to the best interest of the son to be placed with Carruth.
Rae Carruth should not be allowed to seek custody of his son. Although this case will likely be heard under North Carolina law, reviewing it under a Texas Law standard, Rae Carruth’s parental rights would have likely already been terminated. Further, it is contrary to the best interest of the child to place him with his father. Rae Carruth’s request should be denied.
Written by: Kourtney Malone-Parker