A truck driver whose 110-year sentence for a fatal crash sparked widespread outrage may see his prison term significantly reduced after a Colorado judge said he will reconsider the punishment.
Judge Bruce Jones, who sits on the district court in Denver, said Monday he was scheduled a Jan. 13 hearing to reassess the length of incarceration given to truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, who was convicted of vehicular homicide for the 2019 crash and given the lengthy sentence earlier this month.
Minimum sentencing laws in Colorado forced Jones to give Aguilera-Mederos 110 years, but he said while handing it down on Dec. 13: “If I had the discretion, it would not be my sentence.”
“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 added.
Jefferson County District Attorney Alexis King, whose office prosecuted the case, initiated the process to reduce the sentence, noting the unusual circumstances in the case.
“This is an exceptional case and requires an exceptional process,” she said Monday, adding that she would seek a prison sentence of 20 to 30 years.
Leonard Martinez, an attorney for Aguilera-Mederos, said Monday he believes King’s suggestion of 20 to 30 years is still too harsh and “not consistent with the precedent of prior similar cases throughout the State of Colorado and the entire country.” He may ask Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) to grant his client clemency, he added.
Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was found guilty of vehicular homicide in October after a semi-trailer truck he was driving caused a crash with 12 cars and three other semi-trailer trucks, killing four people and injuring others.
He said during trial that his brakes had failed, but prosecutors presented evidence that he missed a runaway truck ramp where he should have pulled the truck off the highway.
“The defendant caused the death of four people, serious bodily injury to others, and the impact of his truck caused damage to many more in our community,” King said Monday, emphasizing the need for some prison time.
Aguilera-Mederos’ effectively lifelong sentence sparked widespread outrage. Nearly 5 million people have signed an online petition calling for his prison term to be reduced, and many gathered to rally in his defense last week outside the Colorado state capitol.
While apologizing to victims’ families at his original sentencing, Aguilera-Mederos reflected on the severity of his conviction.
“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.”