The sentence of a truck driver facing 110 years in prison in connection to a crash in bumper-to-bumper traffic that killed four and injured others will be reduced by 100 years, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared Thursday.
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, the truck driver, was granted the reprieve as part of the Democratic governor's annual clemency action.
"The length of your 110-year sentence is simply not commensurate with your actions, nor with penalties handed down to others for similar crimes," Polis said in Aguilera-Mederos's commutation letter. "There is an urgency to remedy this unjust sentence and restore confidence in the uniformity and fairness of our criminal justice system, and consequently I have chosen to commute your sentence now."
Polis also granted two other commutations and 15 individual pardons. He also signed an executive order that grants 1,351 pardons for people convicted of possessing two ounces of marijuana or less.
TRUCKER RESPONSIBLE FOR FIERY COLORADO CRASH THAT KILLED FOUR SENTENCED TO 110 YEARS
Aguilera-Mederos, now 26, was convicted of 27 counts out of 42 charges, including vehicular homicide for the four victims who died, in connection to the 2019 traffic crash on Colorado's I-70 ramp.
Aguilera-Mederos said the brakes of his semitruck went out as he was going down the mountainside, leading to the deadly crash, but prosecutors said a series of bad decisions were to blame, among them Aguilera-Mederos missing a ramp. They also said he was going 85 mph in a 40 mph area.
"I'm dying. It is hard to live with this trauma," Aguilera-Mederos said at his sentencing hearing. "I can't sleep. I'm thinking all [the time] about the victims. This was a terrible accident, I know. I take responsibility. But it was not intentional. I am not a criminal."
The judge said he felt he had no choice but to sentence Aguilera-Mederos to the 110 years in prison due to the state's mandatory minimum sentencing laws. The laws require the sentences run consecutively instead of at the same time. A resentencing hearing had been set for Jan. 13, and the district attorney's office was recommending 20-30 years in prison instead of 110, according to the Denver Gazette. The defense attorneys said they were hoping for less time.
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Aguilera-Mederos's long sentence led to public outcry, with 5 million people signing a petition calling for Polis to reduce the sentence. Family members and victims had also said they were comfortable with a reduced sentence of 20-30 years. Duane Bailey, the brother of William Bailey, who died in the crash, said at the sentencing hearing that he did not want Aguilera-Mederos to spend his life in prison.
Polis said he was granting Aguilera-Mederos the opportunity to meet parole in 2026, after serving five years of the 10-year sentence.