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Immigrant's confession in Colts player death could be used

Attorneys for a Guatemalan man living illegally in the U.S have ended their effort to have his confession thrown out in a suspected drunken-driving crash that killed Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and his Uber driver.

Posted: Mar 28, 2018 9:34 AM
Updated: Mar 28, 2018 10:41 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Attorneys for a Guatemalan man living illegally in the U.S have ended their effort to have his confession thrown out in a suspected drunken-driving crash that killed Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and his Uber driver.

Attorney John Tompkins told Marion County Judge Grant Hawkins during a Tuesday pre-trial hearing for Manuel Orrego-Savala that he had withdrawn a motion to suppress his client's statements to a state trooper after the Feb. 4 crash in Indianapolis.

Investigators said in a probable cause affidavit that Orrego-Savala admitted to the trooper that he was driving the pickup truck involved in the crash.

His attorneys had argued in a motion filed Feb. 20 that Orrego-Savala's admission shouldn't be allowed because he wasn't first read his rights.

Orrego-Savala, 37, faces four felony charges in the crash that killed Jackson, 26, and his Uber driver, Jeffrey Monroe, 54, as the two men stood outside Monroe's car along Interstate 70 in Indianapolis. Investigators said Monroe was transporting Jackson for the ride-sharing service, and had pulled over after the football player became ill.

Orrego-Savala had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19 percent, which is more than twice Indiana's legal limit of .08 percent, according to court documents. He remains jailed and a not guilty plea has been entered on his behalf.

Orrego-Savala was deported from the U.S. in 2007 and 2009 and was back in the country illegally at the time of the crash, authorities said.

The case became a flash point in the nation's immigration debate, with President Donald Trump tweeting about it and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun featuring it in an Indiana campaign advertisement.

Although Orrego-Savala's attorneys have withdrawn their motion to suppress the confession they can again seek to have it thrown out if they wish, said Ryan Mears, chief trial deputy for the Marion County Prosecutor's Office.

Hawkins approved an order Tuesday requiring Orrego-Savala to provide a DNA sample prosecutors have sought after his attorneys did not oppose their request.

Mears said that sample will be compared to DNA found in a pickup truck to determine Orrego-Savala's presence in that vehicle. He said those tests will "certainly be helpful if his DNA is found at the scene, particularly inside the vehicle we think he was driving."

Prosecutors have also said the sample would confirm his identity, noting that he has used various aliases.

Orrego-Savala's next pre-trial hearing in the case is scheduled for May 18.

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