When former Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III appears in court to face a series of felony charges related to a November 2 fatal car crash, he’ll be standing before a judge who played an important role in the saga of a Buffalo Bills legend: Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson.
The 22-year-old Ruggs stands accused of DUI resulting in death and reckless driving after prosecutors said he crashed his Chevrolet Corvette into the rear of a Toyota RAV4 while driving 127 miles per hour, with a blood alcohol content of “more than twice the legal limit, and a loaded gun was found in the car,” according to Katelyn Newberg of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
23-year-old Tina O. Tintor and her dog died in the fiery crash, which also left Ruggs and his girlfriend, Kiara Kilgo-Washington, with “serious” but non-life-threatening injuries, according to a news release from the Las Vegas Metro Police Department.
Ruggs has already earned a public rebuke from Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure, who has shown in the past that he won’t go easy on NFL players, current or former.
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Bonaventure’s Tie to the Bills
Some Bills fans may remember Bonaventure’s name from the case that sent Simpson to prison in 2008.
Simpson was convicted of kidnapping and robbery in connection with an attempt to recover sports memorabilia that he claimed belonged to him. While it was another judge who ultimately handed down a sentence of 33 years in prison, Bonaventure ordered him to be jailed on a bail violation earlier that year.
Simpson was initially freed on $125,000 bond in September 2017, with Bonaventure delivering some colorful instructions for him not to contact anyone involved with the case.
“Don’t use e-mail, telephone, mail, passenger pigeon, no whatsoever contact. Do you understand that?” Bonaventure told Simpson during his initial bond hearing, via ABC News.
But Simpson was later accused of passing a message along to a co-defendant through a bail bondsman, and Bonaventure had him sent behind bars while the allegations were investigated.
Bonaventure has spoken out in the Ruggs case as well. As ESPN reported on November 3, the judge said he was “troubled by his initial review of the case against Ruggs, adding that in 16 years on the bench he had never heard of a crash involving a vehicle traveling so fast.”
But Bonaventure also denied a request from prosecutors to have bail set at $1 million, instead, setting it at $150,000 with a series of strict rules placed on Ruggs, who posted bond “shortly after making his initial court appearance,” per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The 2020 first-round NFL draft pick will now be subject to “the highest level of electronic monitoring,” according to Newberg.
Simpson Addresses Ruggs Situation
While he didn’t have any comment specifically on Bonaventure’s role in the case, Simpson had plenty to say about the allegations against Ruggs. He took to Twitter on Wednesday, sharing a video filmed while he was sitting in a golf court and speaking out about the sad situation in Las Vegas.
“Well, it was kind of a depressing morning in sports,” Simpson said. “Henry Ruggs with the Raiders, it’s so unfortunate, young kid, promising career. He was just beginning to really start to show off and this happens.”
Smith, who has lived in Las Vegas, said he warned two years ago that players could have difficulty dealing with the city’s nightlife. He also urged people not to rush to judgment in the case and said he was praying for all of those involved.
“My prayers and best wishes go to everybody that was involved in this, but it is so unfortunate,” Simpson said.