Ex-Raider Ruggs’ BAC to be allowed as evidence
- Elizabeth Merrill is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. She previously wrote for The Kansas City Star and The Omaha World-Herald.
A Las Vegas judge ruled Tuesday that blood-alcohol tests are permitted as evidence in the case of former Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, who has been accused of driving 156 mph while drunk, causing a crash that killed 23-year-old Tina Tintor and her dog last November.
Ruggs is charged with multiple felonies, including driving under the influence resulting in death and reckless driving. A police report said that Ruggs refused to take a field sobriety test on site.
“There’s obvious time constraints in applying for a search warrant for a blood draw,” Justice of the Peace Ann Zimmerman said. “Under the totality of the circumstances, there is more than sufficient evidence for a finding of probable cause for the issuance of the search warrant in this case.
“Nobody has mentioned so far that Mr. Ruggs was seriously injured in this accident and transported to the hospital, so he would have been unable to submit to field sobriety tests. Coupled with his refusal to answer questions, this does not result in a reward. … Motion to suppress is denied.”
A lawyer for Ruggs, David Chesnoff, had argued there was no probable cause for the tests, which were taken about two hours after pre-dawn crash. Authorities say Ruggs’ blood-alcohol content was 0.16 — more than twice Nevada’s legal limit. But Chesnoff said that officers on the scene knew they didn’t have enough evidence for probable cause, that involvement in the fiery crash wasn’t enough.
Chesnoff claimed that it didn’t matter to the sergeant on the scene.
“And that’s what’s wrong,” Chesnoff argued. “It does matter, and it has to matter because, if it doesn’t matter, then we are in lawless society.”
Authorities say that Ruggs was speeding west of The Strip when his Corvette Stingray hit Tintor’s Toyota RAV4, propelling the Toyota 571 feet and setting it on fire. A coroner ruled in December that Tintor and her dog, Max, burned to death.
The 12th overall pick in the 2020 draft — the first draft pick of the Las Vegas Raiders — Ruggs was a standout at Alabama, where he was one of the fastest players in college football.
He was released from the hospital, released from custody on a $150,000 bond and released by the Raiders in the middle of his second season. Ruggs was put on house arrest, with alcohol and location electronic monitoring devices.
Ruggs awaits a preliminary hearing — now set for Sept. 7 — to determine whether he will stand trial in state court. That hearing has been rescheduled four times — the latest postponement coming last month.
If convicted, the 23-year-old faces a minimum of two years and a maximum of 50 years in prison.
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