By Chris Kenning
(Reuters) - An Indianapolis prosecutor on Wednesday blasted U.S. President Donald Trump for bringing politics into the case of a twice-deported man charged in a drunk-driving crash that killed an Indianapolis Colts football player.
Manuel Orrego-Zavala, 37, a Guatemalan citizen, was charged with four felonies including drunken driving causing death. Police said he drove a pickup truck that crashed into a vehicle stopped along Interstate 70 on Sunday, killing Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and Jeffrey Monroe, an Uber driver.
Marion County prosecutor Terry Curry said in a statement that his office would prosecute the case because of the deaths, not because the suspect was in the United States illegally.
"We are disheartened that ghoulish and inappropriate public commentary has politicized this tragedy," said Curry, a Democrat. "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."
His comments came after President Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday citing the case in calling for stricter immigration laws.
"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!" he tweeted.
Trump has repeatedly tied immigrants to crime in seeking stricter immigration measures such as a border wall between the United States and Mexico.
Orrego-Zavala's defense attorney, Jorge Torres, said in an interview on Wednesday that his client's immigration status was irrelevant to the case. He said his client has claimed he was not driving the vehicle.
"He's distraught," Torres said.
Court and immigration documents show the man also has spelled his last name Orrego-Savala. He was previously deported to Guatemala in 2007 and again in 2009 and was convicted of driving under the influence in Redwood City, California in 2005, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Nicole Alberico.
A judge on Wednesday entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf and set his bond at $200,000. He also faces federal changes of illegal re-entry of a previously deported alien, federal court records show.
Jackson started in eight games with the Colts in 2016. He was placed on injured reserve by the Colts in September 2017.
(Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Richard Chang)