Posted on: February 21, 2023, 07:32h.
Last updated on: February 21, 2023, 07:44h.
Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure, who is now overseeing the Las Vegas DUI court, recused himself on Tuesday. He asked that the 24-year-old’s case be sent to another judge, Justice of the Peace Harmony Letizia.
Bonaventure said that still another judge had requested the case be heard by Letizia if a DUI specialty court couldn’t hear it.
Judge Made Comments on Case
Bonaventure explained he had to recuse himself because he discussed the case during his 2022 reelection campaign. He said he “had several conversations about this case, and I made public statements about this case in various endorsement interviews and throughout my campaign for reelection last year,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
The case earlier was moved from Justice of the Peace Ann Zimmerman, who formerly oversaw DUI cases in Las Vegas.
Defense attorneys objected to Zimmerman following equal protection issues. District Judge Jennifer Schwartz redirected the case to Bonaventure.
News of the case getting reassigned again appears to have surprised David Chesnoff, one of Ruggs’ attorneys, who has represented many high-profile clients on criminal charges in Las Vegas.
[Attorney Richard] Schonfeld and I will reflect on it and continue to do whatever we need to do to protect the constitutional rights of Mr. Ruggs and thereby protect the rights of all Nevadans,” Chesnoff told Las Vegas TV station KSNV after hearing the latest turn in the case.
Other Driver, Dog Perished
Ruggs was arrested for a November 2021 fatal crash. He was allegedly traveling at speeds up to 156 mph before his Corvette struck a Toyota Rav4, driven by Tina Tintor, 23, near Rainbow Boulevard in Las Vegas, police said. The Toyota burst into flames.
Tintor and her dog, Max, died from injuries suffered in the fire.
Ruggs and an unnamed female passenger were injured. Each received treatment at a local hospital.
Ruggs is charged with DUI resulting in death, DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm, two counts of reckless driving resulting in death or substantial bodily harm, and possession of a firearm while under the influence.
Ruggs was released after posting bond. He must wear a monitoring device. Bonaventure had set $150,000 bail for Ruggs. Prosecutors had asked for a $1M bail.
The next step in the proceedings is for Letizia, if she hears the case, to schedule a preliminary hearing, according to the Review-Journal. That procedure is held to see if there is sufficient evidence for Ruggs to stand trial. The preliminary hearing for Ruggs previously was delayed seven times, Las Vegas TV station KLAS reported.
Earlier, a blood alcohol test was approved to be submitted in the case, despite objections from Ruggs’ legal team. The test showed that Ruggs’ alcohol level after the accident was more than twice the legal limit, KLAS reported. Nevada’s legal limit is .08.
Before the crash, Ruggs led the Raiders in receiving yards in 2021. The former Alabama standout had 24 receptions, 469 receiving yards, and two touchdowns through seven games.
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