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Immigration status issue in fatal crash
Man facing manslaughter charges in traffic deaths of pregnant woman and unborn child may be in country illegally

Date published: 9/15/2012

BY DONNIE JOHNSTON

A man facing two manslaughter charges in the traffic deaths of a pregnant Culpeper woman and her unborn child may not be in the United States legally.

Orlando Cruz, 36, is charged with two counts of aggravated involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence, driving without a license and improper use of a state inspection sticker in a Sept. 6 crash that killed 20-year-old Zulma Alvarez, who was nine months pregnant.

According to the Culpeper County Sheriff's Office, Cruz's Jeep Cherokee struck the Ford Windstar van Alvarez was driving about 7:30 p.m. on the Eggbornsville Road, about one-tenth of a mile west of State Route 229.

The Culpeper County Commonwealth's Attorney's office Friday filed a motion in General District Court to transfer the manslaughter count related to the unborn child to Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and try the cases separately.

Paul Walla, Cruz's court-appointed attorney, withdrew a motion for bail after it was learned that local authorities have been asked to detain Cruz on immigration-status issues.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement lodged a detainer against Cruz, who is suspected of being in this country illegally from El Salvador.

According to a motion filed Friday, the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office twice sent reports to ICE concerning Cruz before he appeared in District Court on June 8 of last year and Jan. 18 of this year. Both times Cruz was charged with driving without a license.

The Commonwealth's Attorney's Office said it is unclear whether ICE acted on the complaints and deported Cruz on either occasion.

Since 2006, the Culpeper office has filed more than 3,000 illegal immigrant notices to federal agents, according to Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Dale Durrer.

Donnie Johnston:
Email: djohnston@freelancestar.com