Rogel Aguilera-Mederos Could Get Reduced Sentence From Judge After 5 Million Sign Petition

A judge set a date Monday to consider a request filed last week to reduce a 110-year prison sentence that drew significant criticism, including an online petition for clemency with over 5 million signatures, given to Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, a 26-year-old truck driver who was involved in a 2019 crash that killed four people.

The prosecution requested the judge lower the sentence, while Aguilera-Mederos has publicly asked Colorado Gov. Jared Polis for clemency.

Aguilera-Mederos testified during his trial that he was driving a lumber truck down a steep hill on Interstate 70 outside Denver on April 25, 2019, when the brakes of the semitrailer failed, causing him to lose control and crash into several vehicles that were slowed or stopped due to a separate crash on the highway.

The resulting crash impacted several cars, killed four people, and started a fire that melted portions of the highway.

Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced Dec. 13 by District Court Judge Bruce Jones, who said it wouldn't be the sentence he would have levied, but 110 years was the minimum sentence for the list of crimes Aguilera-Mederos was convicted of.

Last week, District Attorney Alexis King released a statement saying she is now seeking a term of 20 to 30 years so that Aguilera-Mederos isn't in prison for life, but represents an "appropriate outcome" for his conduct.

"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.

Jones on Monday set a hearing for Jan. 13 to reconsider the sentence.

Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, Colorado, Denver, Truck Crash, Clemency
People hold signs in support of truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos during a rally on the west steps of the state capitol Wednesday in Denver. Relatives, lawmakers and other supporters of a trucker sentenced to 110 years in prison after an explosive brake-failure accident that left four people dead rallied in Denver to plead for clemency. Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via AP

During a virtual hearing to discuss the request, one of Aguilera-Mederos' lawyers, James Colgan, said the defense needed some time to do research to see if there were any similar cases that could help guide its approach.

Jones said he wanted to learn more about whether the law that allowed him to reconsider the sentence gave him discretion to set whatever sentence he wanted.

He said victims would be able to speak at the in-person hearing about whether Aguilera-Mederos should be resentenced. But he noted he did not want them to go through that stress unless they wished to.

"I am a captive audience if they want to speak to me," he said.

After Monday's hearing, King said her office made the reconsideration request to give the court the ability to impose a sentence not bound by the state's mandatory sentencing laws. She said the judge, knowing the case well, was in the best position to decide a new sentence and urged people to be patient as the court process plays out.

Another of Aguilera-Mederos' attorneys, Leonard Martinez, said the district attorney's new requested sentencing range is not consistent with similar cases in Colorado and the United States.

"We plan to move forward and to keep all options open in achieving Justice for Rogel, including the possibility of clemency from Gov. Polis," Martinez said.

Colorado law allows for sentences for crimes deemed violent to be modified in cases with "unusual and extenuating circumstances," but those sentences cannot take effect until 119 days after a person enters prison.

He wept as he apologized to the victims' families at his Dec. 13 sentencing.

"When I look at my charges, we are talking about a murderer, which is not me," he said. "I have never thought about hurting anybody in my entire life."

Prosecutors argued he should have used a runaway ramp designed for such situations. Aguilera-Mederos, for his part, said he was struggling to avoid traffic and trying to shift to slow down.

The crash killed 24-year-old Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 67-year-old William Bailey, 61-year-old Doyle Harrison and 69-year-old Stanley Politano. Relatives of victims supported at least some prison time at his sentencing hearing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rogel Aguilera-Mederos sentence reconsidered
First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King has called for Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos' 110-year sentence to be reconsidered during a hearing scheduled for December 27. Above, Aguilera-Mederos is photographed following his arrest by the Lakewood Police Department in April 2019.

12/28/21, 12:12 p.m.: This story has been updated with new information from Monday's hearing.