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Undocumented immigrant charged with two traffic deaths

The status of undocumented immigrants is one of the most divisive political issues in the United States. The issues were brought into sharp focus when a Guatemalan man was arrested by Indianapolis police and charged with killing a player for the Indianapolis Colts and an Uber driver. The case has been complicated by a tweet from President Trump that assumes the defendant is guilty of the criminal charges against him before he has been tried.

The accident occurred on February 5. The football player was riding in an SUV being driven by an Uber driver when he became ill. He asked the driver to stop, and both men got out of the SUV. They were standing by the side of the road when they were struck by a truck allegedly driven by the defendant. Both died at the scene. The driver of the pick-up allegedly ran from the scene and gave police a false name when they arrested him. According to police, the driver's blood alcohol level was 0.239, almost three times the legal limit in Indiana.

Police released additional information about the defendant, including the fact that he has been twice deported to Guatemala, once in 2007 and again in 2009. The president's tweet was sent out on the morning after the accident. It immediately prompted political reactions from people involved in the immigration dispute. The president blamed the accident on illegal immigration, but an immigration activist in Indiana told the Indy Star that the culprit was charged with drunk driving, not illegal immigration.

The president's predilection for tweeting about pending criminal cases seriously jeopardizes a defendant's opportunity to receive a fair trial and puts inordinate pressure on the defendant to accept a plea agreement that may be unduly prejudicial. Anyone who is accused of a crime under similar circumstances may benefit from consulting an experienced defense attorney about helpful defense strategies.

Source: BBC News, "Indianapolis Colts' Edwin Jackson 'killed by illegal immigrant'," Feb. 6, 2018

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