A 110-year sentence recently imposed on a truck driver involved in a deadly pileup in Colorado that killed four people and injured dozens has prompted a significant outcry and a petition signed by nearly five million people.
On Tuesday, First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King filed a motion for a court to schedule a new hearing to review the sentence of Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos.
“As Colorado law required the imposition of the sentence in this case, the law also permits the court to reconsider its sentence in an exceptional case involving unusual and extenuating circumstances. This would allow for the conditions to be met for a modification of the defendant’s sentence as was discussed by the People in the initial sentencing hearing,” the motion states. “We have spoken to the living victims and the families of the deceased victims, and it is their specific desire to be heard on this modification, in this forum, as quickly as possible.”
The filing and actions of King follow the attention of a recent petition that was posted on Change.org requesting commutation. The petition has caught the eye of prominent leaders and celebrities, including Kim Kardashian-West.
“He was not drunk or under the influence, his brakes on the semi tractor-trailer failed,” she said in a tweet. “Another shocking and unfair part of this case is that the judge didn’t want to sentence him to such a lengthy sentence. However, because of the mandatory minimums in Colorado, his hands were tied. Mandatory minimums take away judicial discretion and need to end.”
I know everyone has been posting about Rogel Aguilera-Mederos this week. I took a deep dive in it to figure out what the situation is. pic.twitter.com/617xtcGOMK
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) December 21, 2021
King’s filing of the motion comes just days after Aguilera-Mederos, 26, a Cuban immigrant, was harshly sentenced for the April 2019 pileup on Interstate 70 near Denver. Investigators in the case said Aguilera-Mederos lost control of his truck after the brakes failed.
The truck was traveling at about 85 mph before slamming into dozens of stopped vehicles, causing a large explosion. The resulting tragedy took the lives of four people: Doyle Harrison, 61; William Bailey, 67; Stan Politano, 69; and 24-year-old Miguel Angel Lamas Arrellano.
Prosecutors argued that he had access to several runaway truck ramps to potentially stop his truck. However, an arrest affidavit stated Aguilera-Mederos tried pulling over to the shoulder off the road, but another semi was already stopped on the shoulder.
After a short trial, Aguilera-Mederos was convicted of vehicular homicide and 23 lesser charges.
He shared the following statement at the sentencing through a tear-filled and shaky composure: “I am not a criminal. I am not a murderer. I am not a killer. When I look at my charges, we are talking about a murderer, which is not me. I have never thought about hurting anybody in my entire life.”
There has been an outcry of criticism saying the sentence was too harsh. Colorado District Court Judge Bruce Jones seemed not to agree with it at the time, but said state laws on mandatory-minimum sentencing bound him.
The intense criticism has been directed at both prosecutors and Colorado’s sentencing guidelines.
The prosecutor in the case, Kayla Wildeman, has come under fire after a now-deleted Facebook post on her personal page showed an image of a trophy made from a brake shoe to celebrate the conviction.
Here is a screenshot of the post: pic.twitter.com/szKlqrh0aE
— Rory Fleming (@RoryFlemingEsq) December 20, 2021
The hearing is expected to be scheduled in the coming weeks.