LAS VEGAS (AP) — Former Las Vegas Raiders player Henry Ruggs pleaded guilty Wednesday to drunk driving his sports car at speeds of up to 156 mph on a city street before causing a ferocious crash that killed a woman and her dog.
«Guilty,» said the 24-year-old former first-round pick in the NFL draft, who will avoid trial and is expected to be sentenced on August 9 to between three and 10 years in state prison under the terms of his plea agreement with prosecutors. The three-year minimum sentence cannot be reduced by converting the year and a half he has spent under house arrest to time already served.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson cited potential legal obstacles to obtaining a conviction at trial, said he met several times with relatives of the woman who died, and said the plea deal with Ruggs «achieved our three most important goals.»
Ruggs was convicted of a felony DUI causing death, will go to prison and will not be able to appeal his conviction and sentence, the district attorney-elect, a Democrat, said in a lengthy written statement. «When someone is killed as a result of the actions of a drunk driver, this is the most serious charge the law allows.»
Ruggs declined to comment as he and a group of about nine people left the courthouse after their brief court appearance. He remains free pending sentencing.
«Henry entered his guilty plea today in the hope that it will promote the healing process of his injuries caused by the accident,» his attorneys, David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, said in written comments. They promised a «more complete» statement after judgment.
The Raiders dropped off Ruggs while he was still hospitalized after the pre-dawn crash on November 2, 2021 that killed 23-year-old Tina Tintor and her dog, Max.
Tintor’s mother, brother, uncle and various family members were in the courtroom Wednesday with their attorneys, Paul Albright and Farhan Naqvi.
In a statement issued after the hearing, the family thanked the district attorney’s office for its work and said they hope to put the case behind them.
«Today, like every day, we remember Tina and Max, and how they were taken from us that fateful night,» the statement said. «No sentence will bring Tina and Max back, but we hope everyone learns from this preventable incident so that no other family suffers like we did.»
Tintor, 23, was a Serbian immigrant who graduated from a Las Vegas high school, worked at a Target store, wanted to become a computer programmer and was close to obtaining her US citizenship, friends and family said after her death.
«The family appreciates privacy during this time of mourning,» Naqvi said later in a written statement.
Ruggs’ girlfriend, Je’nai Kilgo-Washington, was with him in his 2020 Chevrolet Corvette and was also injured. Prosecutors said Ruggs suffered a leg injury and Kilgo-Washington received an arm injury. Kilgo-Washington and Ruggs have a daughter together, and Kilgo-Washington did not cooperate with prosecutors as a victim in the case.
Last week, Ruggs resigned from a long overdue preliminary hearing with his agreement to plead guilty to driving under the influence causing death, a felony and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter that carries a sentence of six months in jail to be combined with your prison sentence of three to ten years.
Wolfson said shortly after the crash that Ruggs would face a mandatory minimum of two years in prison if convicted and could be over 50 years old. The district attorney said investigators learned that Ruggs spent several hours drinking with friends at a golf and sports entertainment venue, and that he may have been at a friend’s house for several more hours before he and Kilgo -Washington headed home.
Since the accident, Ruggs’ lawyers have lost several bids to challenge the evidence, including that Ruggs had a blood alcohol level of 0.16% — double the legal limit in Nevada — after the rear shipwreck that started a fire that killed Tintor and his pet dog.
Wolfson said in his statement that Ruggs may have escaped conviction at trial because Ruggs was not administered a field sobriety test after the accident and his defense attorneys argued that Ruggs’ blood alcohol test was improperly obtained. at the hospital.
«There was virtually no other evidence to show that Ruggs was under the influence,» Wolfson of the blood test.
“I recognize that this result is not enough to punish Ruggs for the loss that the Tintor family has suffered,” the district attorney admitted. “But there was a legitimate concern that a court had suppressed the result of the blood draw. We would have lost the felony DUI charge. We couldn’t take that risk.»
Police reported that airbag computer records showed the Corvette slowed slightly from 156 mph at 127 mph seconds before crashing into Tintor’s Toyota Rav 4. The speed limit in the area was 45 mph.
Other charges against Ruggs were dismissed under the plea deal, including felony reckless driving, driving under the influence causing substantial injury to Kilgo-Washington, and a misdemeanor weapons charge stemming from police discovery of a loaded weapon. in his demolished Corvette. Ruggs agreed to give up the gun.
Ruggs posted $150,000 bail to be released from jail after being released from the hospital and has remained under house arrest with strict conditions including electronic monitoring and alcohol checks. A judge’s order allowed him to attend a gym for three hours of physical training twice a week.
Ruggs’ full name is Henry James Ruggs III. He grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, and won an NCAA championship with the Crimson Tide before the Raiders drafted him in 2020. He signed a four-year rookie contract reportedly worth more than $16 million and had risen like a star. NFL player before the accident. Records show that he purchased a $1.1 million home in April 2021 not far from the scene of the accident.