A 110-year prison sentence given to a truck driver for a traffic collision that killed four people in Colorado has led to millions signing a leniency petition and one of the prosecuting attorneys requesting that his sentence be reconsidered.
Jefferson County District Attorney Alexis King filed a motion Friday requesting the court reconsider what is essentially a lifetime sentence to 26-year-old Rogel Aguilera-Mederos for the 2019 crash that he claims was caused by brake failure. The motion describes the case as “exceptional” and “involving unusual and extenuating circumstances.”
Prosecutors will consult victims prior to any proceedings, the motion states. King’s office said in a statement Tuesday, announcing the motion, that it will not provide further comment at this time.
More than 4.6 million people have signed an online petition urging Aguilera-Mederos’ Dec. 13 sentence be reduced, arguing that the crash was not intentional or criminal and that he was found to have been sober at the time. Truck drivers have also staged protests over the sentencing, with them using hashtags that include #NoTrucksToColorado and #NoTrucksColorado.
Aguilera-Mederos was hauling lumber on April 25, 2019, when he said his semi’s brakes failed along Interstate 70, causing him to careen down the mountain interstate and into stopped traffic in Lakewood. Prosecutors faulted him for speeding and not using a runaway ramp designed for vehicles that have lost their brakes.
But even the judge overseeing the case, District Court Judge Bruce Jones, expressed disapproval of the lofty sentence. He said the term was a minimum required under state law for the 27 counts Aguilera-Mederos was convicted of, which must run consecutively.
“I will state that if I had the discretion, it would not be my sentence,” he said, according to The Associated Press.
“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.
Issue has also since been raised about an apparent handmade trophy that was reportedly exchanged between two district attorneys prosecuting the case.
Jefferson County Deputy District Attorney Kayla Wildeman posted to social media at an undisclosed date a photo of a truck’s brake shoe that was turned into what she called a “special gift” to memorialize the case. It features a plaque reading “I-70 Case” and the case number. The since-deleted post credited senior District Attorney Trevor Moritzky for gifting the item to her, according to The Denver Post.
“I sure am grateful this trial brought you into my career as both a colleague and a friend!” the post read.
King, in a statement to Denver Channel on Tuesday, said Wildeman’s post was made in “very poor taste” and said that the brake part is not from the crash scene.
“The post … does not reflect the values of my administration. We have addressed it internally,” she told the station. Her office did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Kim Kardashian West ― who recently passed California’s First-Year Law Students’ Examination ― was among those who expressed outrage not only over Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence but that social media post.
“Makes me so sick,” she tweeted Tuesday. “Colorado law really has to be changed and this is so unfair.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) said at a news conference Tuesday that his office has received a clemency application for Aguilera-Mederos and that his legal team is reviewing it.
“When we have a decision, we will announce it,” Polis said, according to local station KDVR.
Aguilera-Mederos’ attorney, James Colgan, also told The Denver Post he plans to appeal the verdict, which he said would mean any application for clemency or leniency would have to wait pending that appeal. Colgan did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.