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Ex-Raider Ruggs taking plea deal, prison in fatal DUI crash

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Ex-Las Vegas Raiders player Henry Ruggs III told a judge on Tuesday he will admit that he drove drunk at speeds up to 251 kilometres per hour (kph), causing a fiery crash that killed a woman. His plea deal is expected to send the 24-year-old first-round NFL draft pick to state prison for three to 10 years.

Ruggs waived a long-delayed preliminary hearing with the agreement to admit that he drove under the influence of alcohol causing death, a felony, his lawyers said. A six-month sentence for a guilty plea to misdemeanour manslaughter will be folded in with the total.

Ruggs spoke only to acknowledge for Justice of the Peace Harmony Letizia that he understands the terms of the agreement. The judge scheduled his plea for May 10.

Prosecutor Eric Bauman told the judge the Clark County District Attorney’s office endorsed the deal.

“This is the first step toward a fair resolution to this matter and we look forward to closure for all parties involved,” Ruggs’ attorneys, David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, said in a statement handed to reporters. They and their client and several people with them declined additional comment in the court hallway. Ruggs’ lawyers lost a bid to prevent prosecutors from presenting evidence that Ruggs had a blood-alcohol level of 0.16 per cent – twice the legal limit in Nevada – after the pre-dawn rear-end wreck that killed 23-year-old Tina Tintor and her pet dog, Max.

A Chevrolet Corvette owned by Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III is shown on a flatbed truck after a fatal crash on South Rainbow Boulevard between Tropicana Avenue and Flamingo Road in Las Vegas, United States. PHOTO: AP

The speed limit where the crash happened was 72 kph, a fraction of what police said Ruggs was driving. Investigators found air bag computer records showing his 2020 Chevrolet Corvette decelerated from 251kph to 204kph seconds before slamming into Tintor’s vehicle. An attorney who has represented Tintor’s family members at earlier court appearances did not respond to e-mail and telephone messages to him and his media representative about Ruggs’ plea.

Ruggs’ sentencing will follow on another date in state court in Las Vegas. Other charges will be dismissed, including felony reckless driving, driving under the influence causing substantial injury to Ruggs’ girlfriend, Je’nai Kilgo-Washington, and a misdemeanour gun charge. Police said they found a loaded handgun in Ruggs’ demolished Corvette after the crash.

Ruggs was released by the Raiders shortly after the November 2, 2021, crash.

He could have faced more than 50 years in prison if convicted of all the charges at trial, District Attorney Steve Wolfson had said.

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