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Colorado Governor Jared Polis has reduced the 110-year sentence of Rogel Aguilera-Mederos after fierce pressure from politicians, celebrities including Kim Kardashian and even the victims’ families.
Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was driving a semi-truck on April 25, 2019, along Interstate 70 in Lakewood, Colorado, when he slammed into two dozen vehicles. The impact caused a fireball explosion that incinerated cars and trucks, killing four people.
He was sentenced to 110 years.
Aguilera-Mederos was found guilty on 27 criminal charges in October and received the lengthy sentence on December 13
Kardashian, who is studying law, had called for a lesser sentence for Aguilera-Mederos.
She posted on Instagram to her 271 million followers that she had heard about the case and ‘took a deep dive in it to figure out what the situation is.’
She continued: ‘He was not drunk or under the influence; his brakes on the tractor-trailer failed.
‘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.
Aguilera-Mederos crashed into two dozen vehicles with his semi-truck in April 2019 which killed four people and injured several others
Six others had to be rushed to the hospital in the aftermath of the crash
‘Mandatory minimums take away judicial discretion and need to end.’
Kardashian also condemned the gleeful celebrations of the prosecutors, saying their gift of a brake shoe trophy made her ‘sick’.
She added that the governor, Jared Polis, ‘is a really good person and I know he will do the right thing.’
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, (pictured) was sentenced earlier this month to 110 years in prison in accordance with Colorado’s minimum sentencing guidelines
Aguilera-Mederos testified that the brakes on his semitrailer failed as he was descending a steep grade of Interstate 70 in the Rocky Mountain foothills.
His defense attorney claimed he did not know that his truck brakes were smoking or that he would not be able to stop.
He also argued that Aguilera-Mederos’ actions were a series of negligent decisions, and that he did not intend to hurt anybody.
But 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.
On October 15, a jury ultimately found Aguilera-Mederos guilty of 27 criminal charges, including:
- Four counts of vehicular homicide
- Two counts of vehicular assault
- Six counts of assault in the first-degree with extreme indifference
- 10 counts of criminal attempt to commit assault in the first degree
- One count of reckless driving
- Four counts of careless driving causing death
He was also found not guilty of 15 counts of criminal attempts to commit assaults in the first degree.
Among the victims of the deadly crash were Stanley Politano, 69, of Arvada, Colorado, left, and Miguel Angel Lamas Arrelano, 24, of Denver, right,
Doyle Harrison (left) was also killed in the inferno, as was Victim William Bailey (pictured right with his wife, Gage Evans)
As Aguilera-Mederos faced sentencing on December 13, he issued a statement apologizing to the victims’ families, crying as he spoke.
‘It’s hard. This was a terrible accident, I know,’ he said. ‘I take the responsibility, but it was an accident.
‘I have never thought about hurting anyone in my entire life and Jesus Christ, he knows that, he knows my heart,’ he continued.
‘I am not a criminal, I am not a murderer.’
‘The accident – it wasn’t intentional, it wasn’t intentional, Your Honor. I did all that I can as a man. I put myself in harm’s way to avoid harming anyone else.’
He claimed that he tried to avoid the traffic, and noted that he did not flee in the aftermath ‘because I respect the laws.
‘I want to say sorry, sorry for the loss, sorry for the people injured,’ he concluded, noting: ‘I ask … God many times why them and not me.’
Relatives of the victims supported at least some prison time at his sentencing hearing, but in the statement last week, King said she and her team had spoken to the surviving victims of the crash and the families of those who died about the possibility of Aguilera-Mederos being resentenced before she issued her request.
The juror called the sentence ‘100-fold of what it should have been’ and said that while the trucker was responsible for the crash, Judge A. Bruce Jones should have given him a ‘more suitable sentence.’
Jones has said his hands are tied due to mandatory minimum laws.
‘There is just something wrong to where a judge cannot intervene in some way and say the way this is written is not right,’ the juror added.
The juror also told FOX31 he feels for the families of the victims, but feels compelled to speak in favor of reducing Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence.
‘I don’t [think] the governor should sit there and offer him clemency and let him off,’ he said.
‘But to step in and say this would be a more suitable sentence for what had happened.’
As of Tuesday, almost 5 million people signed a Change.org calling for the trucker’s sentence to be lessened.
‘Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos … has nothing on his driving record, or on his criminal history,’ says a petition, addressed to Polis and Jefferson County courts.
The governor is the only person who can grant clemency at the state level.
Polis most recently commuted four sentences and issued 18 pardons in December 2020. Clemency usually results in a sentence reduction or a pardon.
The petition goes on to say that Aguilera-Mederos could have ‘done things differently to avoid the courts,’ but ultimately commended him for taking responsibility and apologizing to the victim’s families.
It has become the website’s third most signed petition, according to the Change.org page.
Kardashian had previously urged Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt to spare the life of death row inmate Julius Jones who is due to be executed in three days after the governor refused to see his mother.
Jones, 41, is scheduled to be executed last month for the 1999 shooting death of Edmond businessman Paul Howell during a carjacking.
Jones maintains he is innocent and claims he was framed by the actual killer, Christopher Jordan, a high school friend and co-defendant who testified against Jones and was released from prison after 15 years.
Kardashian, who has been an outspoken advocate of criminal justice reform in recent years, said they are all ‘anxiously waiting’ for a decision from Governor Stitt.
The state’s Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 to recommend Stitt grant clemency to Jones and commute his sentence to life in prison.