An Illinois judge has ruled that former Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Ronnell Ruggs will remain on house arrest pending a later hearing, despite a request from Ruggs’ lawyers to ease the restrictions.
Judge William Shipp III, of Williamson County Court, in Illinois, said that the two sides must meet with attorneys for the former Chicago Bear player twice, first at the end of the week, and then in September. If the parties cannot agree on a potential punishment, the judge will take a position and then sentence Ruggs at a later date.
Ronnell Ruggs, nicknamed ‘Rvizzle’, is suspected of drunk driving in crash in 2010 that killed a mother of two children Read more
After reviewing the case for more than an hour, Shipp cited both “the egregious nature of this case and the lack of consent of victim” for setting the longer time frame. Shipp said that the case against Ruggs, a hometown-hero, remains open and could be re-opened at any time.
However, Shipp refused to remove the restrictions that Ruggs, 34, has had placed on him as part of a plea deal that effectively ends his five-year sentence for aggravated DUI manslaughter. Prosecutors did not ask that his parole be suspended. If the former college star’s lawyers fight to the judges’ decision he would get his sentence suspended.
A defense attorney, Tom Reilly, did not return a message seeking comment. An assistant US attorney, Allison Shoichet, declined to comment, saying that the prosecution is not commenting on the case.
The attorney, Katie Fox, had argued that Ruggs should no longer have to live under house arrest because a second impaired driving incident occurred last year in which Ruggs was allegedly at fault. On 7 September, Illinois state police allege, Ruggs was driving after two alcoholic drinks when his car hit a median on a two-lane highway and crossed into oncoming traffic. Police said Ruggs “displayed signs of impairment”, and he was charged with driving under the influence causing serious bodily injury and driving with no valid license. The crash injured a pregnant passenger in the car, but her baby survived.
Two days after the crash, Fox also said Ruggs continued to drink, which threatened Ruggs’ health and contributed to his inability to stay sober.
Ruggs’ lawyer, Tom Reilly, said that a blood test conducted 10 days after the crash came back showing that Ruggs’ BAC level was more than twice the limit for drunken driving.
Reilly argued that Ruggs continued to try to stay sober and helped a woman deliver a baby on the road, after the crash that killed Lisa Ruggs, a 23-year-old mother of two. During the argument over his bail conditions, Ruggs was visibly in pain, and could be seen turning over from side to side in his seat in a wheelchair, flanked by his mother and wife.
Ronnell Ruggs and his wife, Kenya, attended a football game in East St Louis, Illinois, in August. Photograph: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/AP
Shoichet, the assistant US attorney, said that Ruggs’ problems were “never about a drinking problem. This is Mr Ruggs’ second serious offense within a year”.
At a hearing last September, Ruggs’ lawyers argued that he no longer needed his electronic monitoring bracelet because he had no drinking problem and had since started drinking less. Ruggs’ probation officials disagreed.
Lawyers had been in court for two previous hearings over Ruggs’ house arrest restrictions. Prosecutor Allison Shoichet’s request on Monday to take it off was to begin the “moving out” process of Ruggs leaving his family’s home.
But in April, Ruggs’ lawyers successfully fought Shoichet’s request to have him stay with his family because he would no longer be under house arrest.
After Ruggs’ April court appearance, Kenya Ruggs told a Kansas City television station that her husband was not drinking because he was too afraid to because of the condition of his ankle monitor.