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Judge allows Ruggs’ blood-alcohol test evidence

Updated July 12, 2022 - 11:43 am

The results of a blood-alcohol test taken from former Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs will be allowed to be used as evidence in his DUI case, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

Defense attorneys David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld argued that police didn’t have probable cause to ask a judge for the warrant to obtain Ruggs’ blood after the November crash that killed 23-year-old Tina Tintor.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Ann Zimmerman disagreed.

“Under the totality of the circumstances, there’s more than sufficient evidence for finding of probable cause for the issuance of the search warrant in this case,” the judge said Tuesday before denying the defense’s motion to exclude the blood test.

Chesnoff and Schonfeld declined to comment after the hearing.

Ruggs was reportedly driving 156 mph seconds before the fiery predawn crash. Prosecutors have said his blood alcohol level after the crash was 0.16 percent, twice the legal limit for drivers in Nevada.

The 23-year-old has been 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 crash. He 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.

Ruggs’ girlfriend, Kiara Jenai Kilgo-Washington, who also goes by Rudy Washington, was also injured in the crash, prosecutors have said.

Police did not conduct a field sobriety test for Ruggs at the scene of the crash because he was hospitalized, his attorneys wrote in court documents filed in May. An officer at the scene asked his sergeant what to do “as a result of not being able to verify impairment,” the motion said.

Body-worn camera footage captured the sergeant telling the officer that “driving behavior and death alone is going to get you a warrant all day,” according to the filing.

Chesnoff argued Tuesday that Ruggs’ constitutional rights were violated if police requested a search warrant without having a legal reason to suspect he was impaired.

“That officer knows that there wasn’t enough, the sergeant knew there wasn’t enough and said, basically, don’t worry about it,” Chesnoff told the judge. “That’s unconscionable, your honor.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney Eric Bauman argued that the conversation between the officer and the sergeant showed that the sergeant believed there was reason to request a warrant.

“I don’t think the conversation was, ‘don’t worry about probable cause,’” Bauman said. “I think the response was, ‘that will get you a warrant every time.’”

Zimmerman noted that Ruggs was weaving in and out of traffic before his car crashed into Tintor’s vehicle, and that his girlfriend told police she had consumed alcohol at Top Golf with Ruggs earlier in the night.

Paul Albright, an attorney with the law firm representing Tintor’s relatives, said Tuesday that her family believes the judge made the right decision.

“We’re happy with the result today,” Albright said.

In May, a District Court judge ruled that the lower court was right to allow prosecutors to access Washington’s medical records related to the crash, after her attorney argued that releasing the information without her consent would violate doctor-patient privilege. Washington is not facing any charges related to the crash, but prosecutors have said they are trying to prove that she suffered substantial bodily harm.

A preliminary hearing in the case, which has been postponed several times, is currently scheduled for Sept. 7.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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