LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — We're waiting for a judge to determine whether to release the medical records of Henry Ruggs III in his deadly DUI case. The former Raiders receiver is accused of driving drunk and traveling more than 150 miles per hour before causing a crash that killed 23-year-old Tina Tintor.
13 Action News spoke with Chip Siegel, a longtime Las Vegas criminal justice attorney, to better understand why the medical records are so significant in this case.
Siegel says he understands the defense's strategy. After trying to seal Ruggs' medical records, Siegel expects his lawyers will attack the bloodwork taken at the scene of the crash.
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"Given just the facts, 150 miles per hour on a city street slamming into the back of the car, person is killed, dog is killed, fire going on, those are really difficult facts in front of a jury. And your best chance is not going to be, 'oh, he wasn't under the influence,' as much as, 'hey, wait a second, this bloodwork is wrong. There's something wrong with the bloodwork and if we can't trust the bloodwork, then it shouldn't be a DUI, it should just be a reckless driving.'"
Secondly, Siegel says Ruggs' attorneys are seeking to seal the medical records of Ruggs' girlfriend because otherwise, they could be used against him, potentially resulting in twice as many charges and twice as much prison time for the former Raiders receiver.
"If they get her medical records, the argument from the state is, 'We don't need her as a witness. We don't care if she comes in and says, 'I don't want him to be found guilty of this.' That doesn't matter. If they get her medical records in, they can have a doctor testify that she had a broken wrist and then argue to the jury that, under Nevada law, a broken wrist is substantial bodily harm. So now what they have is two counts of DUI Substantial Bodily Harm and he goes from facing 20 years to facing 40 years. And, it allows a sentencing judge to say, 'Hey, you know what? I think this case is worth more than an 8-20 [years], I think it's worth above that," said Siegel.
Judge Robert Walsh said he would issue a ruling on the medical records in this case by the end of the day Wednesday. When 13 Action News called the court clerk, we were told a decision may not come down until midnight tonight, and it's more likely we'll learn of his decision tomorrow morning.