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Colorado Gov. Polis reduces sentence for truck driver in fatal crash

UPI News
UPI News
 2021-12-31
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Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday commuted the sentence of a truck driver sentenced to 110 years in prison for a crash that killed four people.

He lowered Rogel Aguilera-Mederos' sentence to 10 years in prison. A Colorado judge sentenced him to 110 years in prison Dec. 17 after he was convicted of more than two dozen charges, including vehicular manslaughter, first-degree assault with extreme indifference and attempted first-degree assault with extreme indifference for the 2019 crash.

Judge A. Bruce Jones expressed misgivings about the sentence immediately upon issuing it, saying he wouldn't have issued the effective life sentence had he not been forced by state law to make Aguilera-Mederos serve the prison terms consecutively.

"In all victim impact statements I read, I did not glean from them someone saying, 'He should be in prison for the rest of his life, and he should never, ever get out," Jones said during the sentencing hearing. "Far from it. There was forgiveness reflected in those statements, but also a desire that he be punished and serve time in prison, and I share those sentiments."

Others agreed, starting a Change.org petition asking Polis to grant Aguilera-Mederos clemency or commute his sentence to time served.

Polis described the 110-year sentence as "highly atypical and unjust."

"While you are not blameless, your sentence is disproportionate compared with many other inmates in our criminal justice system who committed intentional, premeditated or violent crimes," Polis said in a letter to Aguilera-Mederos.

"Your highly unusual sentence highlights the lack of uniformity between sentences for similarly situated crimes, which is particularly true when individuals are charged with offenses that require mandatory minimum sentences."

Polis said he hoped the case will inspire reform in sentencing laws.

Aguilera-Mederos told investigators the truck's brakes went out and he couldn't do anything to prevent the crash on Interstate 70 in Lakewood, Colo., just west of Denver.

When his truck slammed into stopped traffic on the interstate, it caused a large fire and instantaneously killed four people -- Doyle Harrison, William Bailey, Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano and Stanley Politano.

Aguilera-Mederos asked for forgiveness before the sentencing and said the crash wasn't intentional.

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