Thursday, 27 Jan 2022

DA starts process to reduce 110-year sentence for I-70 truck driver who killed 4

First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King quietly moved to reduce the 110-year sentence for the truck driver who killed four people in a crash on Interstate 70 just four days after a judge laid down the prison term.

King started the process to potentially reduce Rogel Aguilera-Mederos’s sentence on Friday — an abrupt about-face for her office, which pursued the charges that ensured Aguilera-Mederos would go to prison for decades if convicted.

She did not announce the move until Tuesday, as an online petition calling for a sentence reduction swelled to more than 4.5 million signatures and Gov. Jared Polis said he would expedite consideration of a petition for clemency from the truck driver.

King filed a request with the court for a hearing in which District Court Judge Bruce Jones can by law reconsider the mandatory minimum sentence for Aguilera-Mederos. Under the state’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws, Jones can reconsider a mandatory sentence in “unusual and extenuating circumstances” after receiving a report from the Department of Corrections about Aguilera-Mederos.

Jones said when he sentenced Aguilera-Mederos last week that he had no discretion to lay down a different prison term, but that he would if he could. He indicated he’d be willing to reconsider the sentence through the process detailed in state law.

The Department of Corrections must submit its report on Aguilera-Mederos within 91 days of taking him into custody. King’s request asks that the hearing be set “as soon as practicable upon the receipt of the report.”

She said in the motion that her office is talking with the victims in the case to see where they stand on a sentence reduction and will provide that information to Jones once it’s been gathered.

During Aguilera-Mederos’s sentencing last week, many of the victims who spoke said they believed Aguilera-Mederos should spend time in prison. One family member of a man who died said he did not wish to see Aguilera-Mederos spend the rest of his life in prison, but did want to see him serve at least two decades.

King’s office won convictions on 16 first-degree assault and attempted first-degree assault charges against Aguilera-Mederos. Those “crimes of violence” must be sentenced consecutively, not concurrently, under Colorado’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which strip decision-making from judges and give prosecutors tremendous power to determine how much prison time a defendant will face if convicted.

In the days since the sentencing, the case gained national attention, including from Kim Kardashian West, who called it “so unfair” in a tweet Tuesday.

Aguilera-Mederos testified during his trial that he lost his brakes in Colorado’s high country and couldn’t control his semitrailer on April 25, 2019. He passed at least one runaway truck ramp — a safety feature designed specifically to stop trucks that lose their brakes on the interstate’s mountain passes — and was seen driving recklessly fast in the hours before the crash, prosecutors said during the trial. He at one point realized he had a problem with his brakes and pulled over, but then continued driving, prosecutors said.

After losing his brakes, Aguilera-Mederos drove on the interstate’s shoulder until his path was blocked by a parked tractor-trailer under an overpass in Lakewood. At that point, Aguilera-Mederos turned his semitrailer into stopped traffic, killing four people and injuring others.

A jury in October found Aguilera-Mederos guilty on four counts of vehicular homicide, six counts of first-degree assault, 10 counts of attempted first-degree assault, four counts of careless driving causing death, two counts of vehicular assault and one count of reckless driving.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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