Apparently 4 lives are worth 5 years in prison then apply for parole.
DENVER, CO – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) on Thursday shortened the prison sentence of a truck driver convicted in a deadly crash to 10 years, drastically reducing his original 110-year term that drew widespread outrage.
Polis announced Thursday he would commute the sentence for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, reducing his sentence from 110 years to 10 years. Under the new sentence, the 26-year-old would be eligible for parole in five years.
The Governor said:
“I am writing to inform you that I am granting your application for a commutation. I believe you deserve clemency for several reasons. You were sentenced to 110 years in prison, effectively more than a life sentence, for a tragic but unintentional act.”
Polis announced the news Thursday along with two other commutations, fifteen individual pardons, and an executive order granting 1,351 pardons for those convicted of possessing two ounces or less of marijuana.
In Aguilera-Menderos’ commutation letter, Polis wrote:
“The length of your 110-year sentence is simply not commensurate with your actions, nor with penalties handed down to others for similar crimes.
“There is an urgency to remedy this unjust sentence and restore confidence in the uniformity and fairness of our criminal justice system, and consequently I have chosen to commute your sentence now.”
Aguilera-Mederos was given the 110-year sentence on Dec. 13. The judge who handed down the sentence was bound by the state’s mandatory minimum sentencing rules.
Leonard Martinez, Aguilera-Mederos’s defense attorney, thanked the Governor:
“The judge’s sentence of 110 years is unjust and not in line with prior case law, and we are thankful that the Governor agrees with us.
“We are reviewing this commutation of the sentence with Rogel and his family. The potential for Rogel to be reunited with his family rather than spend a lifetime behind bars is exciting for all involved.”
Prosecutors had asked the judge for a sentence modification to 20-30 years but expressed disappointment with the 10-year sentence. First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King said:
“I joined the surviving victims and families of those who lost their loved ones in their wish to have the trial judge determine an appropriate sentence in this case, as he heard the facts and evidence of the defendant’s destructive conduct that led to death, injury, and devastating destruction.
“We are meeting with the victims and their loved ones this evening to support them in navigating this unprecedented action and to ensure they are treated with fairness, dignity, and respect during this difficult time.
We look forward to sharing more information with our community that we were ethically prohibited from releasing while the case was pending.”
Aguilera-Mederos, a Cuban immigrant, said the crash unfolded in April 2019 when his brakes failed, sending his truck plowing into dozens of cars and causing a 28-car pile-up.
Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano (24), Doyle Harrison (61), Bill Bailey (67) and Stanley Politano (69) were killed in the crash. Two others sustained serious bodily injuries.
Twenty-eight vehicles, including four semi-trucks, were damaged or destroyed in the wake of the fiery crash on April 25, 2019. Investigators estimated he was going at least 85 miles an hour just before the crash as he was driving a semi-truck carrying lumber on eastbound I-70.
Truck drivers, celebrities, and the general public expressed shock and outrage over the original sentence, with about five million people signing an online petition seeking his clemency.
Domingo Garcia, the national president of LULAC, a Latino civil rights organization, called the sentence mindboggling:
“This case is so egregious. It boggles the mind that here we are in 2021 and that somebody who was not intoxicated, not on drugs… It’s an accident, the brakes went out. But here’s the Latino driver, he gets charged, convicted and given 110 years of prison on his first offense.”
Aguilera-Mederos was convicted on Oct. 15 on almost four dozen counts he faced, including four counts of vehicular homicide, first-degree assault, attempted first-degree assault, reckless driving, and careless driving.