Updated November 10, 2021 - 4:54 pm
Prosecutors formally charged ex-Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs on Wednesday in connection with a fiery crash that left a young woman dead.
Though Ruggs, 22, did not attend a morning court hearing, records show that he pleaded not guilty in the case.
Defense attorney David Chesnoff told Justice of the Peace Suzan Baucum that he received a copy of the criminal complaint, which is the document prosecutors use to file charges against defendants.
According to Las Vegas court records, the football player was charged with felony counts of DUI resulting in death, DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm, and two counts of reckless driving resulting in death or substantial bodily harm in connection with the death of Tina Tintor and the injuries his front-seat passenger, longtime girlfriend Rudy Washington, suffered in the Nov. 2 crash.
“The evidence supports a second felony DUI charge,” Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson told reporters following the hearing. “We believe that Mr. Ruggs’ girlfriend was substantially injured, and under Nevada law if one is substantially injured in a DUI collision as a result of the defendant’s actions, we can file a second charge.”
A prosecutor previously said Ruggs’ blood alcohol level was 0.16 percent, twice the legal limit for drivers in Nevada, after the crash.
Following Ruggs’ first court appearance on Nov. 3, Wolfson said he was told that Ruggs’ girlfriend suffered a “significant” wrist injury. The district attorney declined to discuss Washington’s injuries on Wednesday.
Ruggs also was charged with a misdemeanor count of possession of a firearm while under the influence, court records show. Authorities have said a loaded weapon was found in his Chevrolet Corvette Stingray after the crash.
He faces up to 40 years behind bars if convicted of the DUI counts.
Dispute over medical records
Baucum scheduled a preliminary hearing for Ruggs on Dec. 16. After a preliminary hearing, a judge determines if there is enough evidence for a defendant to stand trial.
Although Baucum previously granted requests from the prosecution for access to medical records for Ruggs and Washington, defense attorneys on Wednesday argued that the records should not be released.
Baucum described the prosecution requests as routine but halted the release of the records until defense attorneys could argue against their release in a hearing set for Dec. 8.
Defense attorney Peter Christiansen, who said he was retained by Washington, joined Ruggs’ defense attorneys’ request to halt the release of the records.
Christiansen did not immediately return a request for comment.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, Chesnoff repeated calls to withhold public judgment until the case is adjudicated.
“Let us do our work in the courtroom,” he said. “The state, the prosecutor will do theirs, and that is when the facts will be determined.”
Ruggs has been out of custody — under house arrest in his $1.1 million home several miles west of the Las Vegas Strip — since posting bail last week. Under the conditions of his release, court records show, he is prohibited from driving and consuming alcohol or drugs and is required to undergo alcohol testing four times a day.
Baucum noted on Wednesday that Ruggs has been “compliant on all of his check-ins” while on house arrest.
No charges related to dog’s death
According to Ruggs’ arrest report, he was speeding up to 156 mph mere seconds before crashing into the back of Tintor’s Toyota RAV4 in a residential area near Rainbow Boulevard and Spring Valley Parkway. The impact ignited the RAV4’s fuel tank, and the SUV burst into flames.
Wolfson said prosecutors are not able to charge Ruggs in connection with the dog’s death.
“We explored that issue, but Nevada law does not permit us to bring charges against somebody for animal cruelty or animal abuse under these facts and circumstances,” Wolfson said.
The evening of the crash, the Raiders released Ruggs from the team.
Prosecutors have said that prior to the crash, Ruggs and his girlfriend were at TopGolf Las Vegas, and may have gone to a friend’s home afterward.
A witness who heard the crash told police that he saw a Dodge Durango drive up to the scene and stop near Ruggs’ Corvette, while a woman screamed for help, according to Ruggs’ arrest report.
“He stated the occupants of the Dodge were cursing the ‘F’ word,” an officer wrote in the report. “He saw people trying to help the driver of the Toyota as it became engulfed in flames.”
Wolfson said in a text message to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday that he was “made aware early on of another vehicle or two that may have arrived at the scene that may have had some connection to Mr. Ruggs.”
The district attorney said investigators were looking “into all aspects of what happened that evening,” including where Ruggs was before the crash and “who he may have come into contact with.”
“This is a normal part of any investigation,” Wolfson said.