A judge on Wednesday sentenced Henry Ruggs III, a former wide receiver for the Raiders, to at least three years in prison for his role in a crash that killed a woman in Las Vegas in 2021.
Ruggs pleaded guilty in May to a felony drunken-driving charge for crashing his sports car into the sport utility vehicle of Tina Tintor, 23, on Nov. 2, 2021. On Wednesday, Judge Jennifer Schwartz sentenced Ruggs to up to 10 years in prison, with the ability for Ruggs to be paroled after three years, keeping in line with the contours of a plea agreement.
The authorities said Ruggs, now 24, a first-round pick in the 2020 N.F.L. draft, was driving his Corvette at speeds as fast as 156 miles per hour at 3:40 a.m. when he slammed into Tintor’s S.U.V., which burst into flames, killing Tintor and her dog, Max.
Ruggs’s blood-alcohol level was reported as 0.16, or twice Nevada’s legal limit, and his girlfriend, Kiara Kilgo-Washington, was also injured. The Raiders released Ruggs from their roster hours after the crash.
As part of his agreement, Ruggs pleaded guilty in May in Nevada’s Eighth Judicial District Court to one count of driving under the influence resulting in death, a felony, and one count of vehicular manslaughter, a misdemeanor. Prosecutors dropped three original felony charges — two counts of reckless driving and driving under the influence resulting in bodily harm — and a misdemeanor charge of possessing a gun while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Ruggs appeared in court in a dark suit and tie flanked by his defense attorneys, David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld. Ruggs read a prepared statement and said that his actions are “not a true reflection of me.”
“Over the past 21 months, I’ve searched for a way to find the answers for my selfish behavior on that day,” Ruggs said before members of Tintor’s family present in the courtroom. “I have no excuse and pray that accepting responsibility with my guilty plea can allow me to begin the healing process and allow everyone involved to heal also.”
Before levying the sentence, Schwartz called the case “one of the most tragic” she had seen. And Mirjana Komazec, Tintor’s mother, prepared a statement read by a representative for the family that said: “Every parent’s worst nightmare is to create a beautiful child just to have them taken away at the hands of another’s negligence.”
Ruggs could have faced more than 50 years in prison had he been convicted of the original charges.
The plea deal resolved nearly two years of legal jostling between prosecutors and Ruggs’s defense team, which had raised questions about how the police gathered evidence that Ruggs had been drinking.
Ruggs did not admit to drinking when he was interviewed by authorities after the crash, but the police got a warrant to take blood-alcohol tests when Ruggs went to a hospital. His lawyers argued that the police should not have been able to get the warrant. And in May, Steven Wolfson, the Clark County district attorney, acknowledged that it was not clear that the blood samples would be able to be used at trial, which led to the offer of the plea agreement.
“There was a legitimate concern that a court would have suppressed the result of the blood draw,” Wolfson said in a statement. “We would have lost the felony D.U.I. charge. We couldn’t take that chance.”
Eve Hanan, an associate dean at the law school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said in an interview that the police lacked visual or verbal evidence to conclude that Ruggs was drunk.
“Causing a death is serious, but the question is, Was he just driving really fast and recklessly, or was he driving drunk? And I don’t think they have it,” Hanan said. “I think that under federal constitutional standards, not just Nevada standards, that they did not have enough to stick a needle in someone’s arm, and the only evidence they had for drinking is the blood.”
The Tintor family said in a statement in May that they wanted to put the case to rest.
“No sentence will ever bring Tina and Max back, but we hope that everyone learns from this preventable incident so that no other families suffer like we do,” the family said in a statement through a lawyer. “We appreciate the efforts of the district attorney’s office to overcome the issues caused by the initial investigation.”
Since the crash, Ruggs had been on house arrest with strict conditions after posting bail of $150,000. He was in his second season and had started all seven games for the Raiders in 2021 before the crash. In a statement after the sentencing, Ruggs’s attorneys said he had accepted the verdict and will “return to making positive contributions to his community” upon his release from prison.
His arrest was one in a string of criminal incidents involving N.F.L. players over the past two years.
The N.F.L. last week suspended the New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara for three games for his role in the beating of a man outside a Las Vegas nightclub on Feb. 5, 2022, the day before the Pro Bowl, the N.F.L.’s annual all-star game. Kamara pleaded no contest in July to an amended misdemeanor charge of breach of peace, avoiding jail time by reaching a plea agreement. Kamara must complete 30 hours of community service, pay a $500 fine and pay more than $100,000 in medical expenses to the victim, Darnell Greene.
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