MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 23, 2013

Plea deal reached in injury accident

Motorist to spend time in prison

By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer

— A Muskogee man accepted a plea deal Friday, sending him to prison for a drunken driving crash that cost a man his leg.

Charles Edwin Ruffin, 25, pleaded guilty to a charge of driving under the influence causing a personal injury accident in connection with an incident on Jan. 16, 2012.

As a result of the crash, Robert Cruce, 56, of Muskogee was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries and lost his right leg.

Ruffin received a sentence of 20 years — eight of which will be spent in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, followed by 12 years of supervised probation. Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Moore said the probationary time would allow Ruffin to attend treatment and possibly pay restitution to Cruce.

Ruffin is to appear at a restitution hearing at 9:30 a.m. April 17.

“We’ve been encouraged by DOC to start putting time on the back end of these sentences,” Moore said. “So, when they get out they’re still on probation.”

Moore said Cruce signed off on the plea agreement.

“He approved of it and is glad that it’s over with,” Moore said. “He’s pleased that it’s finally come to a conclusion. It’s been going on for more than a year now. He’s wanted it over a long time ago. Forever he’ll be changed by the actions of this man.”

Ruffin also pleaded guilty to charges stemming from an arrest less than two weeks before the crash. Ruffin was arrested Jan. 7, 2012, on East Side Boulevard for driving under the influence. He had two passengers, including his niece, then 11. Officers searched the vehicle and found drugs.

Ruffin received concurrent sentences of 20 years — eight in prison and 12 suspended — on a charge of possession of controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute and of eight years on a count of child endangerment.

Ruffin was also assessed fines and costs and was ordered to participate in drug and alcohol treatment, a victim’s impact program and a DUI program.

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth@muskogeephoenix.com.