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D.A. in Colorado asks for reconsideration of trucker’s 110-year sentence

Workers clear debris from the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 in Lakewood, Colo., following a deadly pileup
Workers clear debris from the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 on April 26, 2019, in Lakewood, Colo., following a deadly pileup involving a semi hauling lumber.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

The district attorney’s office in Jefferson County is asking a judge to reconsider the 110-year sentence he imposed on Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, the office announced Tuesday.

Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was convicted in October of dozens of charges in connection with a fiery wreck on Interstate 70 in 2019 that killed four people and injured several others when the tractor-trailer he was driving slammed into heavy traffic.

Backlash over the sentence handed down to Aguilera-Mederos has grown in the past week, with a petition to Gov. Jared Polis for clemency gathering more than 4.5 million signatures. Aguilera-Mederos was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash and had no prior criminal record in Colorado.

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Aguilera-Mederos was traveling as fast as 85 mph when his truck slammed into traffic on a section of Interstate 70 in Lakewood where commercial vehicles are limited to 45 mph because of the road’s steep grade.

He said at his trial his brakes had failed and when his emergency brake didn’t work, he planned to stay on the shoulder to avoid traffic, but couldn’t because another truck was in the way. Prosecutors said failing to use a runaway truck ramp several miles before the crash was among a series of bad decisions Aguilera-Mederos made that precipitated the wreck.

He was convicted of 27 counts, including vehicular homicide and assault. A state law requiring the sentences be served consecutively, rather than at the same time, contributed to the lengthy sentence. But the judge said publicly it would not have been what he would have imposed if he had more discretion.

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The law also allows the court to “reconsider its sentence in an exceptional case involving unusual and extenuating circumstances,” according to a motion filed Friday by the office of District Attorney Alexis King, but the motion doesn’t elaborate.

More than 3.2 million people have signed a petition as Friday afternoon calling for Gov. Polis to grant clemency or commute the sentence handed down to Rogel Aguilera-Mederos on Monday.

King’s office requested an expedited hearing in another motion Tuesday. A Department of Corrections report evaluating factors such as the perceived likelihood of Aguilera-Mederos reoffending and whether he poses any danger to the public could be finished as soon as Thursday, according to a news release.

Prosecutors requested a status hearing be set for Friday or next Monday.

“The purpose for the People’s expedited request is so that the named victims in the case, as well as their families, have an opportunity to be heard by the trial court who is fully aware of the facts of the case. We have spoken to the living victims and the families of the deceased victims, and it is their specific desire to be heard on this modification, in this forum, as quickly as possible,” said the office in the release.

King’s office declined further comment on the motion. But the Associated Press previously reported that while King said she was open to a reconsideration of Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence, she believed the convictions recognized harm caused to victims of the crash and that Aguilera-Mederos wasn’t open to negotiating a plea deal.

In an interview with the Denver Gazette, Aguilera-Mederos’ defense attorney, James Colgan, expressed frustration about the timing of the district attorney’s motion, saying the request came after “they get some political pressure and some pressure in the media, and all of a sudden they decide they want to reconsider the sentence.”


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