Former Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was driving 156 mph with a blood alcohol content twice Nevada’s legal limit before his car slammed into the rear of a vehicle that burned, killing a 23-year-old woman, according to prosecutors.
Ruggs, 22, remained seated in a wheelchair with a foam brace on his neck and jail guards at his elbows during his initial court appearance Wednesday on pending felony charges of driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in death and reckless driving.
Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure said he was troubled by his initial review of the case against Ruggs, adding that in 16 years on the bench he had never heard of a crash involving a vehicle traveling so fast.
Nevertheless, he rejected prosecutor Eric Bauman’s request to set Ruggs’ bail at $1 million and instead set the amount at $150,000 with strict conditions to include home confinement, electronic monitoring, no alcohol, no driving and the surrender of Ruggs’ passport.
Court records showed that Ruggs posted the $150,000 bond a short time later. His lawyer said he was released from jail Wednesday evening.
According to police, Tina O. Tintor was the name of the Las Vegas woman who died with her dog in the wrecked and burned Toyota RAV4. Records show she lived several blocks from where the crash occurred on a busy thoroughfare in a residential area several miles west of the Las Vegas Strip.
Bauman told the judge that air bag computer records showed that the Corvette decelerated from 156 mph to 127 mph before it slammed into a Toyota at about 3:40 a.m. Tuesday, rupturing the vehicle’s fuel tank and igniting a fireball.
The Raiders released Ruggs late Tuesday, just hours after the crash and shortly after he was released from a hospital and booked into a Las Vegas jail. The extent of his injuries was not disclosed, although Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said outside court that he believed Ruggs suffered a leg injury.
Ruggs’ girlfriend, identified by police as Kiara Je’nai Kilgo-Washington, 22, of Las Vegas, was with him in the car and was also injured in the crash. She underwent surgery Tuesday for a severe arm injury, authorities said.
Four men whom Wolfson later identified as family members attended the hearing but declined to speak with reporters.
Ruggs’ attorneys, David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, had argued that bail is by law meant to ensure their client returns to court, not to punish him. Bonaventure, who in January 2008 returned former football star O.J. Simpson to jail for violating terms of his pretrial release in an armed robbery case, warned Ruggs that if he didn’t comply with restrictions, he faced re-arrest and a return to jail.
Chesnoff said later that Ruggs should be able to post $150,000 bail.
Wolfson said outside court that he intends to file a second felony DUI charge against Ruggs related to the injuries to Kilgo-Washington. Bonaventure noted the couple have a 3-year-old daughter together.
The district attorney said he might also file a weapon charge against Ruggs related to possessing a gun while under the influence of alcohol. Ruggs had a loaded gun in the car at the time of the crash.
Bauman said Ruggs was uncooperative with police and medical workers, and his blood alcohol level taken within the required two hours after the crash was 0.161%. Police said previously in a statement that Ruggs “showed signs of impairment.”
“This is particularly tragic,” the prosecutor told the judge. He said that since 2013, the NFL Players Association has contracted with rideshare services to provide free transportation to members “specifically to prevent tragedies such as this.”
Probation is not an option in Nevada for a conviction on a charge of DUI causing death or DUI causing substantial bodily injury. Both carry a possible sentence of two to 20 years in state prison. Added to a possible one to six years for reckless driving, Bauman told Bonaventure that Ruggs could face up to 46 years behind bars if convicted.
Property records show Ruggs owns a $1.1 million home in a neighborhood not far from where the crash occurred.
Wolfson said investigators learned that Ruggs spent several hours at TopGolf, a sports entertainment venue in Las Vegas, and might have been at a friend’s home for several more hours before the crash.
A witness told police that people got out of a Dodge Durango SUV that was found parked behind the Corvette at the scene of the crash. Police and prosecutors have not said who was in that vehicle at the time. Wolfson said the investigation was continuing.
Ruggs is due again in court Nov. 10.
The crash came less than a year after Raiders running back Josh Jacobs crashed a sports car into a tunnel wall on a roadway at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
Jacobs received several stitches for a cut forehead and was initially charged with driving under the influence, but that charge was dropped a week later because Jacobs’ blood alcohol level did not reach the 0.08% level needed to pursue the case. Chesnoff and Schonfeld represented Jacobs in that case, which was closed in March after Jacobs mentored at a Boys & Girls Club and paid a $500 fine to resolve a traffic violation of failure to exercise due care.
ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source : ESPN