Throughout his sentencing listening to final week, Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos broke down in tears as he pleaded for a decide to forgive him for a 2019 incident wherein he crashed an enormous rig into a gaggle of stopped automobiles on a Colorado freeway. The collision killed 4 folks, injured a half-dozen and began a hearth that engulfed a number of automobiles and melted parts of the freeway.
“I might have most well-liked God taken me as an alternative of them,” mentioned Aguilera-Mederos, 26. The truck driver insisted the crash was not intentional, saying his brakes failed and he tried his greatest to avert catastrophe.
Two months earlier, a jury had convicted Aguilera-Mederos on 27 counts in reference to the incident, together with 4 counts of vehicular murder, six counts of first-degree assault and 10 counts of tried first-degree assault, the Related Press reported. Colorado District Choose A. Bruce Jones mentioned throughout final week’s sentencing listening to that he was “not offended” at Aguilera-Mederos however didn’t have the discretion to impose a sentence lesser than 110 years in jail. Colorado legislation, he mentioned, permitted him to impose solely the minimal jail time for every cost, and “each crime of violence needs to be sentenced consecutively,” he mentioned.
“If I had the discretion, it might not be my sentence,” Jones mentioned, not specifying what his most well-liked sentence can be.
Now, greater than 4 million folks have signed a Change.org petition asking Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) to grant clemency to Aguilera-Mederos or commute his sentence. The petition argues that Aguilera-Mederos didn’t deliberately trigger the deaths and was not a prison deserving of a lifelong jail sentence. A spokesperson for Change.org advised KDVR that it was the fastest-growing petition of 2021.
A spokesperson for Polis advised information retailers that the workplace is “conscious of the problem” and the governor and his workforce “assessment every clemency utility individually.”
On April 25, 2019, the brakes on Aguilera-Mederos’s semi-truck failed on a mountainous portion of Colorado’s Interstate 70, and the truck plowed into dozens of stopped automobiles, inflicting a 28-car pileup and a hearth that engulfed automobiles and parts of the freeway. Prosecutors argued through the trial that Aguilera-Mederos didn’t do every little thing in his energy to keep away from the lethal collision — noting that at one level, he drove previous a runaway truck ramp after he had misplaced management of the car, KUSA reported.
Aguilera-Mederos’s protection argued that the truck driver, who was 23 on the time, didn’t deliberately drive previous the ramp; as an alternative, his legal professionals mentioned, he was targeted on swerving between automobiles and navigating the highway, the information station reported.
In statements earlier than and through the sentencing listening to, relations of those that died within the collision described their grief. Gage Evans, whose husband, Invoice Bailey, died within the crash, advised CBS Information earlier than the listening to that she believes Aguilera-Mederos made “reckless selections” and deserved a jail sentence.
The spouse of Doyle Harrison, who additionally died within the incident, mentioned that whereas she is keen to forgive Aguilera-Mederos, he must face penalties for his actions, KUSA reported.
However the decide recommended that nobody thought Aguilera-Mederos deserved 110 years in jail.
“In all of the sufferer influence statements I learn, I didn’t glean from them somebody saying he must be in jail for the remainder of his life and he ought to by no means, ever get out — removed from it,” Jones mentioned. “There was forgiveness mirrored in these statements, but additionally a want that he be punished and served time in jail, and I share these sentiments.”
Aguilera-Mederos’s protection lawyer, James Colgan, argued that the legislation allowed for his shopper to obtain a minimal sentence of 20 years, the Denver Submit reported. However the decide mentioned throughout his sentencing remarks that the state gave him no selection apart from to impose the minimal sentence for every depend. Underneath Colorado legislation, many of the sentences on the person counts must be served consecutively.
Jones defined that Aguilera-Mederos can nonetheless petition for a sentence reconsideration inside 126 days.
“I’ve no want personally to see Mr. Aguilera-Mederos in jail for the remainder of his life and away from his spouse and son,” Jones mentioned early in his remarks. “I have no idea how it will in the end resolve.”