More than three million people have signed a petition to change the 110-year jail sentence given to a truck diver who said he lost control of his brakes in a crash that killed four people in Colorado.
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was sentenced to a prison term twice as long as some Colorado murderers after his convictions triggered provisions in state law that forced the judge to hand down a minimum 110-year sentence.
A change.org petition was created days after the Dec. 13 sentencing to push the courts to grant clemency or a reduced sentence for Aguilera-Mederos. The petition argues the accident was not intentional and the responsibility lies on the trucking company and the faulty brakes.
“He’s passed all of the drug and alcohol tests that were given, including a chemical test. This accident was not intentional, nor was it a criminal act on the driver’s part,” the petition reads. “We are trying to hold the person who needs to be held responsible, responsible.”
Aguilera-Mederos said the brakes on his semitrailer failed on April 25, 2019 as he drove on a downhill grade on I-70 west of Denver. As a result, he crashed into cars that were stopped because of another wreck.
Doyle Harrison, 61; William Bailey, 67; Stanley Politano, 69; and Miguel Lamas Arrellano, 24 — died in the crash.
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A jury in October found Aguilera-Mederos guilty of four counts of vehicular homicide, six counts of first-degree assault, 10 counts of attempted first-degree assault, four counts of careless driving causing death, two counts of vehicular assault and one count of reckless driving.
He was handed a 110-year prison sentence despite District Court Judge Bruce Jones and one victims family member disagreeing with the sentence length.
“We are aware of this issue, the Governor and his team review each clemency application individually,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ office said in a statement to KSN.
Under Colorado law, first-degree assault and attempted first-degree assault are so-called “crimes of violence” in which prison sentences must run consecutively, and not concurrently, when they spring from the same incident.
“This is a grossly excessive sentence,” said Mark Silverstein, legal director for the ACLU of Colorado. “It cries out for the reform of sentencing laws. But I think calls for change also need to be directed at the seldom-criticized but largely unchecked power of prosecutors. They have the power to decide who goes to prison and for how long. Prosecutors decide on the charges to file, and they decide what plea bargains to offer.”
The judge said during the sentencing hearing that he had no discretion to set a lesser prison term, though he would have liked to.
And the day after the sentencing, First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King — who pursued the convictions that led to the 110-year sentence — said in a statement she would “welcome” a reconsideration of the prison term.
Contributed: The Associated Press
Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda
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