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Guatemalan man charged in crash that killed Colts linebacker

February 7, 2018

State and federal authorities have filed criminal charges against the Guatemalan man illegally living in Indiana who is suspected of driving the vehicle that struck and killed Indiana Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and his Uber driver on Sunday morning.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced Wednesday he had filed charges on two counts of failure to remain at the scene of an accident and two counts of causing death when operating a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent of .15 or more against Manuel Orrego-Zavala. According to the probable cause affidavit filed Wednesday in Marion Superior Court Criminal Division, Orrego-Zavala was driving a Ford pick-up with an alcohol concentration equivalent of .191 when he struck Jackson and 54-year-old Jeffrey C. Monroe, who were standing near Monroe’s vehicle on the shoulder of Interstate 70.

In the probable cause affidavit, Indiana State Police Trooper Jayson Massey wrote that a passing motorist who had stopped at the scene of the accident witnessed a Hispanic man fleeing the pick-up truck. Trooper Ty Mays apprehended the man, who was identified through a Mexican consulate identification card as Alex Gonsales of Indianapolis. Subsequent investigation revealed the man’s identity as Orrego-Zavala, a Guatemalan native previously deported twice and currently living in Indiana illegally.

“We will vigorously prosecute this matter, just like any comparable crime, not because of the immigration status of an accused, but because two innocent men lost their lives in this horrible accident,” Curry said in a Wednesday statement.

The felony charges filed against Zavala in Marion Superior Court Criminal Court 5 come shortly after U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler announced he was charging Orrego-Zavala — also known as Manuel Orrego-Savala — with illegal re-entry of a previously deported alien, the Associated Press reported. If convicted, Orrego-Zavala faces up to 10 years in prison, the AP reported, though Minkler said the federal charges will be handled after the state action is resolved.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to address the fatal crash, tweeting that it was “disgraceful” that Jackson was killed by someone living in the country illegally. He also called on Democrats to “get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST.” Curry, however, criticized those who have used the accident as a political platform.

“We are disheartened that ghoulish and inappropriate public commentary has politicized this tragedy,” Curry said. “Much of such commentary, including tweets by the president, fails to acknowledge that both Edwin Jackson and Jeffrey Monroe lost their lives on Sunday. We will simply seek justice on behalf of the families of those two victims.”

An initial hearing in the case of State of Indiana v. Manuel Orrego-Zavala (aka Manuel Orrego-Savala), 49G05-1802-F3-004503, was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. today in Criminal Court 5, and a pretrial conference has been scheduled for 9 a.m. March 27.

In addition to his current state charges, the AP reported Orrego-Zavala was convicted of driving under the influence in Redwood City, California in 2005 and was given a brief jail sentence. He also has a record of numerous misdemeanor convictions in California and Indiana.

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