Ex-Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs sentenced in fatal DUI case

Posted at 2:42 PM, August 9, 2023


LAS VEGAS (Court TV) — Former top wide receiver Henry Ruggs III has been sentenced to three to ten years in prison months after pleading guilty in a fatal DUI crash that killed a woman and her dog.

Ruggs, 24, was driving a reported 127 mph with a blood alcohol level of 0.161 on Nov. 2, 2021, when caused the crash that killed Tina Tintor, 23, and her dog. He pleaded guilty in May as part of a plea deal.

A deputy places handcuffs on Henry Ruggs III in court.

Former Las Vegas Raiders NFL football player Henry Ruggs III is taken into custody following his sentencing hearing at the Regional Justice Center, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023, in Las Vegas. Ruggs pleaded guilty May to felony DUI causing death and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

At the time of the accident, Ruggs was a wide receiver for the Las Vegas Raiders, having been drafted in 2020 to a four-year contract.

In a statement when the plea agreement was announced, Tintor’s family said, “Today, like every day, we remember Tina and Max, and how they were taken from us that fateful night. 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.”

On Aug. 1, Ruggs’ defense attorneys filed a sentencing memorandum in mitigation of punishment, offering letters from people who know Ruggs in defense of his character.

Ruggs’ attorneys asked the judge to sentence the former football star to 3-10 years in prison on the felony charge of driving under the influence resulting in death, to be served concurrently with a 6-month sentence for vehicular manslaughter.

A series of letters included with the memorandum from a criminologist who interviewed Ruggs and his family and members of the community who know him offer a portrait of young man who overcame difficult circumstances to get to the NFL.

“Virtually nothing in Mr. Rugg’s background to predict this tragic occurrence,” noted Dr. Sheila Balkan, a criminologist who interviewed Ruggs and his family. Overcoming a great deal of adversity, Mr. Ruggs graduated from high school as a model student and went on to college at the University of Alabama. Never one to cut corners, he has always acted responsibly, as a student, athlete, fiancé and father.”

A crushed corvette at a crash scene

FILE – A Chevrolet Corvette is shown at the scene of a fatal crash on South Rainbow Boulevard between Tropicana Avenue and Flamingo Road in Las Vegas, Tuesday, Nov. 02, 2021. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP, file)

Balkan noted there was no evidence that Ruggs had a problem with drinking or drugs, and in fact tried to stay sober because of his mother’s battle with prescription medications.

“He says he can count on two hands the number of times he has been drunk in his life,” Balkan said. “He has worked to be a pillar of responsibility in a destabilized family and encouraged family members to sober up and stop consuming drugs.”

Another deadly car accident plays a central role in the sentencing memorandum. On March 3, 2016, Rugg’s best friend, Roderic, was killed in a car crash after the two were supposed to drive together to a tournament. When Ruggs got sick and could no longer attend, Roderic drove in another car which crashed, costing him his life.

“While Henry’s story has all the markings of a Greek tragedy — the dramatic downfall of a hero and the painful loss of a precious human life — this need not be the end of the story for this young man who has been a gift and blessing in the lives of many,” said Alabama State Rep. Phillip Ensler, who wrote a letter on Ruggs’ behalf. “He has overcome too much for this to be the end. I am confident that if you use your discretion to give him a second chance, he will make you proud.”

Ensler met Ruggs in 2012, when Ruggs was in ninth grade and Ensler was serving as a Teach for America corps member.

Ruggs attorneys noted in their sentencing memorandum that their client has had no issues since being on home confinement with electronic monitoring since Nov. 3, 2021.