Henry Ruggs III officially pleads guilty in fatal DUI case

ByElizabeth Merrill and Anthony Olivieri ESPN logo
Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Former Las Vegas Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs III pleaded guilty Wednesday in a 2021 drunken driving crash that killed a Las Vegas woman and her dog.

Ruggs, 24, pleaded guilty in Clark County District Court to one count of DUI resulting in death and one count of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. He faces three to 10 years in a Nevada state prison. A judge set his sentencing for Aug. 9. Ruggs will remain under house arrest with alcohol and location electronic monitoring devices until then.

Ruggs, dressed in a dark suit, spoke softly and was asked by Judge Jennifer Schwartz to speak up as he addressed the court. When asked to acknowledge details of the crash that resulted in Tina Tintor's death, Ruggs responded, "Yes, Your Honor."

District Attorney Steven B. Wolfson said in a statement that the charge of driving under the influence resulting in death was "the most serious charge the law allows" when someone dies as the result of a drunken driver's actions. That charge, the statement said, was based virtually entirely on the result of a blood draw, which occurred at the hospital.

Ruggs' legal team had sought to suppress the results of the blood draw, arguing there was insufficient probable cause for a judge to approve it. Had a judge suppressed the blood draw, Wolfson's statement said, there was a "strong likelihood" that the DUI death charge would have been dismissed.

"I recognize this outcome is not sufficient to punish Ruggs for the loss the Tintor family has suffered," the statement said, "but there was a legitimate concern that a court would have suppressed the result of the blood draw. We would have lost the felony DUI charge. We couldn't take that chance. This resolution sends Ruggs to prison for up to 10 years on a felony DUI conviction and brings closure to the Tintor family."

Tintor's mother, brother and several other family members were in the courtroom Wednesday.

"Today, like every day, we remember Tina and Max, and how they were taken from us that fateful night," the Tintor family said in a statement issued by their attorneys at Naqvi Injury Law. "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. We appreciate the efforts of the district attorney's office to overcome the issues caused by the initial investigation, and we look forward to putting this behind us so that we can focus on honoring the memories of Tina and Max."

Ruggs and his attorneys, David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, declined immediate comment and left the courthouse with a group of about nine people following the brief court appearance.

On Nov. 2, 2021, according to police, Ruggs was driving drunk and reached speeds of 156 mph seconds before crashing his Corvette Stingray into Tintor's Toyota RAV4, propelling it 571 feet. A blood draw about two hours after the crash revealed his blood alcohol level was 0.161 -- more than twice the legal limit in Nevada.

The next day, Ruggs was released on a $150,000 bond, cut by the Raiders and has been confined to his home with alcohol and location electronic monitoring devices for the past year and a half. A court decision last year permitted Ruggs to leave home confinement twice a week to work out three hours a day at a training center in the Las Vegas Valley. Around that same time, the court allowed him to go to California for a month for unspecified medical treatment.

Tintor, 23, and her dog Max died from thermal injuries, a coroner ruled in December 2021.

Last week, Ruggs waived his right to a preliminary hearing as a plea deal was reached in which one count of DUI causing substantial harm regarding his passenger was dropped along with two counts of reckless driving. Ruggs' girlfriend, Kiara Je'nai Kilgo-Washington, was in the car and was also injured.

Ruggs, who played at Alabama, was the Raiders' first draft pick after they arrived in Las Vegas. He was taken 12th overall in 2020 and played 20 games for the franchise.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.