LOUISVILLE, KY. (WHAS 11)--The man accused of driving drunk and killing two children in 2016 rejected a plea deal from prosecutors Wednesday morning, clearing the way for the trial to begin Thursday.
Prosecutors will be able to present the statement Juan Carlos Ortega-Santos made to Jeffersontown Police officers in the hours after the crash. Ortega-Santos' lawyer unsuccessfully tried to the get the statement thrown out because he said his client, who is a Mexican national, did not fully understand the officers' questioning and document he signed waiving his Miranda rights.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kristi Gray countered the argument, citing a business listed in the Indiana Secretary of State records. The business, Gray said, was the registered owner of the vehicle Ortega-Santos was driving the night of the crash. Gray suggested since the business was identified with Ortega-Santos own name, he had no trouble completing the registration paperwork.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Barry Willett ruled denied the motion to dismiss Ortega-Santos statement to police.
Willett is also allowing prosecutors to present the blood alcohol evidence officers and doctors obtained at the hospital after the crash.
According to his arrest citation, the first set of blood drawn from Ortega-Santos that night registered .200 blood-alcohol level, which is more than two times the legal limit. Two more sets of blood were drawn. The last one, Gray said, registered .139 five hours after the crash.
She said Ortega-Santos was lying to officers when he told them he had only had two or three beers around 7pm that night. She said beer caps and a cardboard box with a partial beer label were found in the car after the crash.
Ortega-Santos veered into a bike lane where four kids were standing. He struck and killed Tyeisha Lacy, 16, and Alena Clay, 10.
Lacy pushed a relative out of the path of the vehicle before she was hit.
The arrest citation shows Ortega-Santos told officers he had no idea how the accident happened or what he had hit.
His lawyer said Ortega-Santos has not decided if he will testify.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin January 18 at 9 a.m. If a jury is seated, Gray said, opening statements would likely begin in the afternoon.
Ortega-Santos is also under federal indictment on immigration and fraud charges.
As a result of the deadly crash, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement launched and investigation into Ortega-Santos immigration status. Investigators said Ortega-Santos used someone else's social security number to gain employment.
The federal case is pending.
i-Team Investigator Derrick Rose can be reached at (502) 582-7232 and email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @WHAS11DRose.