Image via KCCI News
This article is the first in a series of articles which will explore the case against Las Vegas Raiders Wide Receiver, Henry Ruggs III from both the prosecution and defense standpoint. This article will explore how Mr. Ruggs III’s blood may just be the key to unraveling this case. The next article will explore Mr. Ruggs III’s potential defenses.
Let’s get this out of the way. This isn’t Trevor Bauer or Deshaun Watson where there is a chance (however small in Watson’s case) neither will be charged with a crime. If the final crash investigation concludes the same thing as the preliminary findings, Henry Ruggs III will be charged by a grand jury with DUI Resulting in Death.
As reported by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via Twitter, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department responded to a traffic collision near the intersection of South Rainbow Boulevard and South Spring Valley Parkway in Las Vegas. Fire department personnel responded and located a deceased victim inside the Toyota Prius. The driver of the Chevrolet Corvette remained on scene and showed signs of impairment. The preliminary finding for the investigation is the Chevrolet Corvette driven by Las Vegas Raiders Wide Receiver, Henry Ruggs III rear-ended the Toyota Prius where the victim was inside. Mr. Ruggs will be charged with DUI Resulting in Death. In the State of Nevada, that charge is a Category B felony and carries a maximum of twenty years in prison. However, it also carries a minimum of two years in prison. Thus, if Mr. Ruggs III was convicted of this crime, he would have to serve a minimum of two years in prison.
NRS 484C.430 states that a driver who is impaired by alcohol or drugs or has illegal amounts of alcohol or drugs in their system commits “DUI causing death” when the driver “does any act or neglects any duty imposed by law while driving or in actual physical control of any vehicle on or off the highways of this State, if the act or neglect of duty proximately causes the death to another person.” As we know from the statement, the preliminary finding of the crash was Mr. Ruggs III’s Chevrolet Corvette rear-ended the Toyota Prius driven by the deceased. That finding looks like it fits the language of the DUI Resulting in Death Statute. As it stands right now, how might the prosecution prove their case?
Reading the law enforcement’s statement provided me a very important piece of information. “He (Mr. Ruggs III) was transported to UMC Hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.” The fact he was transported to a local hospital is very important. The reason is because often in cases with DUI Resulting in Death, law enforcement doesn’t need a warrant to get the driver’s medical blood. The hospital will often take the driver’s blood because it is part of their routine practice. As Mr. Ruggs III was showing signs of impairment at the scene of the crash, his medical blood would be able to confirm or dispel whether Mr. Ruggs III was impaired at the time of the crash. The prosecuting attorney and eventually a jury will want to know exactly what his BAC (blood alcohol content) was at the time of the crash. Obviously, his BAC will be lower at the time of the blood draw than it was at the time of the crash. However, if it is till 3x the legal limit at the time of the draw, it is very safe to say it was even higher at the time of the crash. I once prosecuted a woman for DUI whose BAC was .32 at the time of the draw (4x the legal limit) and she was still blowing a .2 when she took the breath test approximately five hours after the crash. A jury loves to hear what the Defendant’s BAC was. It makes their job very easy. Was it more than .08 or not? If it was, how far over .08? If the BAC is .08 on the first blow and. 07 on the second blow, the jury is likely going to find that the Defendant wasn’t impaired. The reason being that one breath sample was under the legal limit. However, if the breath test shows the Defendant’s BAC was .14 on the first blow and .12 on the second than the jury likely will find the Defendant was impaired. The other important fact is somebody died. In opening statements, the prosecution will tell the jury that somebody died in this case. That way the jury is focused on the case and ensures their complete attention as opposed to them thinking about what will happen on the next episode of Squid Game.
This case seems very open and shut especially if his blood draw shows his BAC exceeded the legal limit. However, from my experiences, no criminal case is ever open and shut. The ironclad criminal case does not exist. Henry Ruggs III will have his day in court.
TO BE CONTINUED in The Defense of Henry Ruggs III.
Matthew F. Tympanick is the Founder/Principal of Tympanick Law. P.A., located in Sarasota, Florida where he focuses his practice on Criminal Defense. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts School of Law where he served as a Public Interest Fellow and as a Staff Editor on the UMass Law Review. He was previously a felony prosecutor in Sarasota, Florida. In over three years as a prosecutor, he prosecuted thousands of misdemeanor and felony criminal cases. You can follow him on Twitter @Tympanick20.