Millions Sign Petition to Reduce 110-Year Sentence for Trucker in Deadly Crash

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An online petition says the 2019 clang successful Colorado that near 4 radical dormant was a “tragic accident” and that the driver’s condemnation should beryllium adjusted.

A trucker hauling lumber connected  Interstate 70 adjacent   Denver crashed into respective  cars, sidesplitting  4  people, connected  April 25, 2019.
Credit...David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Azi Paybarah

Dec. 19, 2021, 6:19 p.m. ET

Days aft a Colorado justice sentenced a motortruck operator to 110 years successful situation for his relation successful a 2019 clang that killed 4 people, an online petition seeking for the condemnation to beryllium reduced has been signed by much than 4 cardinal people.

On April 25, 2019, Rogel Aguilera-Mederos was driving a motortruck connected Interstate 70 successful Lakewood, Colo., adjacent Denver, erstwhile it crashed into respective cars, sidesplitting 4 people.

In October, a assemblage recovered him blameworthy of 27 counts, including vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. On Dec. 13, a territory tribunal judge, A. Bruce Jones, sentenced Mr. Aguilera-Mederos, present 26, to much than a period successful prison, citing Colorado authorities instrumentality that required sentences for each number to beryllium served consecutively, alternatively than concurrently.

Almost immediately, the lengthy condemnation drew scrutiny, including from the judge, who, Reuters reported, said, “If I had the discretion, it would not beryllium my sentence.”

In a Dec. 15 editorial, The Denver Post urged Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado to commute the lengthy condemnation and called connected authorities legislators to alteration the instrumentality that mandated it.

Mr. Aguilera-Mederos has said malfunctioning brakes were the superior origin of the crash. The institution helium was driving for, identified in section quality reports arsenic Castellano 03 Trucking LLC successful Houston, did not instantly instrumentality messages near astatine telephone numbers associated with the company.

Prosecutors successful the lawsuit person argued that Mr. Aguilera-Mederos was liable for the deaths due to the fact that of respective decisions helium made portion down the wheel, including not steering the truck, which was hauling lumber, onto a runaway motortruck ramp on the highway.

The time aft The Denver Post editorial appeared, Jalopnik, a fashionable website astir cars, wrote that “sending an worker to a lifetime-and-a-half successful situation arsenic a effect of a calamity stemming from instrumentality nonaccomplishment isn’t going to bash anyone immoderate favors.”

A petition connected the website Change.org called what happened a “tragic accident” and urged Mr. Polis to either assistance Mr. Aguilera-Mederos clemency oregon a commutation. By Sunday, it had collected much than 4.2 cardinal signatures.

“I person been successful this strategy for 32 years and I person ne'er seen thing similar this,” said James Colgan, a lawyer for Mr. Aguilera-Mederos.

“I deliberation the chances are beauteous bully that the politician is going to look astatine that favorably,” helium said, adding, “This is truly, truly, genuinely thing that is retired of the ordinary.”

Image

Credit...Lakewood Police Department, via Associated Press

Conor Cahill, a spokesperson for Mr. Polis, said “we invited an application” from the defence “and volition expedite information but person not received 1 yet astatine this time.”

Mr. Colgan said helium plans to question a commutation, which lessens the severity of the sentence, not a pardon, which excuses oregon forgives the offense. A commutation would not alteration the jury’s determination to convict Mr. Aguilera-Mederos but would alteration however overmuch time, if any, helium would walk incarcerated.

Gage Evans, the woman of William Bailey, who died successful the crash, said connected Sunday that she does not judge Mr. Aguilera-Mederos’s condemnation should beryllium commuted. Instead, she thinks authorities legislators should re-evaluate the instrumentality that forces him to service each of his sentences consecutively.

“This idiosyncratic should walk immoderate clip successful situation and deliberation astir his actions,” said Ms. Evans, 65. “I don’t deliberation helium should beryllium fto disconnected with a slap connected the wrist.”

She said that she and the different household members of the victims quality the “public narrative” that Mr. Aguilera-Mederos is simply a victim.

“We are genuinely the victims,” she said, adding that she believes Mr. Aguilera-Mederos made “bad decisions each on the mode that day.”

Michael W. Teague, a spokesperson for the Colorado First Judicial District Attorney’s Office, said the driver’s actions that time had “grave impacts.”

“We initiated plea negotiations but Mr. Aguilera-Mederos declined to see thing different than a postulation ticket,” helium said.

The 110-year condemnation successful this case, Mr. Teague said successful a statement, is “within the purview of the tribunal and reflects the judgement of the legislature.” If an entreaty is pursued, “we volition again prosecute an due result if that accidental arises, aft consulting with the victims and survivors and receiving their input,” helium said.

After Mr. Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced, the Truck Safety Coalition, an enactment that works with families of motortruck clang victims, made a pointed connection directed astatine trucking companies.

“We anticipation that this result volition effect successful commercialized centrifugal carriers prioritizing safety,” it said connected Twitter connected Thursday.

Mr. Colgan said of his client, “We’re not saying he’s guiltless and didn’t marque mistakes” but that “the punishment has to acceptable the transgression and this punishment does not acceptable the crime.”

Alyssa Lukpat contributed reporting.

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