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Fatal hit & run suspect will go to trial

Posted at 3:30 PM, Jun 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-03 18:28:45-04

The illegal immigrant accused of hitting and killing a co-worker, while he was drunk, was in Douglas County Court on Friday afternoon.

Douglas County Court Judge Sheryl Lohaus finds enough evidence to move Orling Zelaya to district court for trial.  Zelaya also goes by Edwin Palma.

A Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy and Omaha Police officer both testified and said Zelaya was behind the wheel the night that Margarito Nava-Luna, 34, was run over and dragged near 104th & Manderson Plaza.  According to authorities the two had worked together and went drinking at Bogies Bar before leaving together.  Zelaya was later stopped by the Douglas County Sheriff's deputy with a Blood Alcohol Content of point .239.  The deputy testified he could smell burning flesh coming from under Zelaya's SUV.

"As long as he knows he's the one who's guilty and I know no matter what I'm happy he's going to get what he deserves,” said Nava-Luna’s step-son, Manuel Medina. "Nothing else is going to bring him (Nava-Luna) back you know."

Zelaya is an illegal immigrant from Honduras who has used two names and has been convicted of at least two other DUI's in two different states.

His attorney, who called him by both names, argued authorities can't prove who was behind the wheel when the hit and run happened only that Zelaya was there when he was stopped.  Prosecutors believe they have enough evidence to show he was responsible.

"That's part of the essence of somebody who's under the influence and operating a motor vehicle. It's a dangerous instrument at that time, and these people are incapable of using their full faculties, and in this case someone got killed," Douglas Co. Attorney Don Kleine explained.

Orling Zelaya or Edwin Palma is charged with motor vehicle homicide, leaving the scene, and refusing a breath test which are all felonies.

The case has been assigned to Douglas County District Court Judge Horacio Wheelock.