Guatemalan Pleads Not Guilty in Football Player’s Death

This photo provided by the Indiana State Police shows Manuel Orrego-Savala, a citizen of Guatemala, who is be held in a suspected drunken driving crash that killed Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, along Interstate 70 in Indianapolis. Police say that Orrego-Savala, who gave a fake name following the Sunday accident, has twice been deported from the U.S. (Indiana State Police via AP)

INDIANAPOLIS (CN) – The Guatemalan man accused of killing an Indianapolis Colts player and an Uber driver pleaded not guilty Wednesday to state felony charges related to the fatal crash.

Manuel Orrego-Savala, 37, was arrested early Sunday morning after Indiana State Police said he tried to flee on foot from the scene of the crash that killed Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and his Uber driver Jeffrey Monroe.

Orrego-Savala, who is reportedly living illegally in the U.S., is charged under Indiana law with causing death while driving intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident.

He also faces a federal immigration charge of illegal re-entry. Authorities say he had been deported in 2007 and again in 2009.

Marion County Judge Grant Hawkins entered a not guilty for Orrego-Savala on the state charges in a hearing Wednesday morning. The suspect answered through an interpreter as the judge explained the charges.

Police say Monroe’s vehicle was stopped on the side of I-70 and he and Jackson were standing outside the car when a black Ford F-150 allegedly driven by Orrego-Savala hit them.

Jackson, 26, and Monroe, 54, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Orrego-Savala allegedly used the alias Alex Cabrera when with speaking police and is accused of having a blood-alcohol level of nearly three times the legal limit.

Southern Indiana U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler announced the federal immigration charge Tuesday.

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson walks off the field following a 24-17 win against the Tennessee Titans in Indianapolis on Nov. 20, 2016. Jackson was killed in a car crash on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

“The defendant in this case allegedly re-entered the country illegally for the second time before he put the public safety of Indianapolis at risk and took the lives of two innocent men early Sunday morning,” the prosecutor said.

Orrego-Savala’s federal charge will stay pending until the state charges are resolved.

As Congress faces another budget showdown this week, Republicans seized the opportunity to double down on their stance for tougher immigration laws.

President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter, “So disgraceful that a person illegally in our country killed @Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson. This is just one of many such preventable tragedies. We must get the Dems to get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST!”

The president also offered his prayers to Jackson’s family.

Todd Rokita, an Indiana Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, also released a statement about the incident.

“The loss of life at the hands of illegal immigrant criminals should make all Hoosiers sad and ultimately angry,” Rokita said. “We must do more to get these dangerous illegal immigrant criminals off of our streets, and guarantee this never happens again by building a wall, ending sanctuary cities, and stopping illegal immigration once and for all.”

Orrego-Savala’s defense attorney Jorge Torres said after Wednesday’s hearing that he has “serious concerns about a fair trial” due to the publicity surrounding his client’s immigration status.

Soon after Jackson’s death, the Indianapolis Colts released a statement praising the young man for contributions on and off the field.

“We were heartbroken to hear the news of Edwin Jackson’s passing. Edwin was loved by all in the Colts organization,” the team said. “We admired his outgoing personality, competitive spirit and hard-working mentality. He was well-respected among all with whom he crossed paths, and he will be greatly missed in our locker room and throughout our entire organization. We also understand that another person lost his life in the accident, only adding to our sorrow on this day. We are shocked and saddened by this tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of both men during this difficult time.”

Colts owner Jim Irsay announced he will pay for the funeral expenses of both Jackson and Monroe.

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