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Justice Gavel

Trucker's sentence cut to 10 years in deadly Colorado crash

Jan. 3, 2022
Ahead of Jan. 13 resentencing hearing and public outcry, Colorado governor steps in and slashes 110-year sentence of truck driver Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos.

Following widespread protest, a truck driver involved in and convicted for a 2019 multiple-vehicle crash that killed four people and injured six has had his 110-year prison sentence reduced to 10 years.

A Colorado district attorney had asked the First Judicial District Court in Jefferson County, Colorado, to reduce the sentence of truck driver Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos to 20 to 30 years. Aguilera-Mederos was convicted in October of vehicular homicide and other charges in connection with the crash in April 2019.

A status hearing was held a week ago when a judge set Jan. 13 as the date for a resentencing hearing. But on Dec. 30, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis stepped in and commuted what he called an "unjust" sentence. At trial, Aguilera-Mederos was convicted on 27 counts, and the judge said state law forced him to impose the lengthy sentence, according to wire service reports.

In a statement, District Attorney Alexis King said she was "disappointed in the Governor's decision to act prematurely" ahead of the Jan. 13 resentencing hearing.

But before Christmas, King came down firmly in favor of reducing Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence. “Based on the facts of this case and input from the victims and their families, my office will be asking the court to consider a sentencing range of 20-30 years when the court is prepared to address resentencing,” she said in a Dec. 23 statement.

“As the jury found, Mr. Aguilera-Mederos knowingly made multiple active choices that resulted in the death of four people, serious injuries to others, and mass destruction," King said. "Given that the victims in this case have more than one view of an appropriate outcome, and this trial court heard the evidence presented, we believe that this hearing is the best path to securing justice for everyone involved.”

The drastic reduction of most of his sentence came in the midst of a national public outcry on his behalf and King’s request to reconsider the original prison sentence passed down last month.

Aguilera-Mederos was convicted of vehicular homicide and other charges by a Jefferson County jury in October in connection with a deadly crash on Interstate 70 west of Denver. He was 23 years old at the time of the crash.

According to the Associated Press, Aguilera-Mederos’ truck was carrying lumber and going at least 85 mph on a part of Interstate 70 where commercial vehicles are limited to 45 mph because of a steep descent from the Rocky Mountain foothills. The initial impact caused a 28-vehicle chain-reaction wreck that ruptured gas tanks, causing flames that consumed several vehicles and melted parts of the highway, AP reported.

During his trial, Aguilera-Mederos testified that the brakes on his tractor-trailer failed before he crashed into vehicles that had slowed because of another wreck in the Denver suburb of Lakewood. Prosecutors argued Aguilera-Mederos could have used one of several runaway ramps designed to stop trucks and other vehicles that have their brakes fail.

On Dec. 13, Colorado District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones sentenced Aguilera-Mederos to 110 years in prison, to be served consecutively. That sentence sparked immediate public outcry.

Supporters of Aguilera-Mederos maintained the sentence was unjust, and truck drivers around the country had taken up his cause, using hashtags like #NoTrucksToColorado and #NoTrucksColorado, The Colorado Sun reported.

Nearly 5 million people also had signed a petition asking for Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence to be commuted or reduced. According to a Change.org petition, he had no criminal history and nothing on his driving record. Petitioners, instead, pointed the blame at the trucking company Aguilera-Mederos was driving for at the time of the crash.

About the Author

FleetOwner Staff

Our Editorial Team

Kevin Jones, Editorial Director, Commercial Vehicle Group

Josh Fisher, Editor-in-Chief

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