Colorado’s Governor Has Shown Mercy to a Houston, Texas Truck Driver
A trucker from Cuba who immigrated to the United States and made a home for himself in Houston, Texas was recently sentenced to over a century in prison for causing a traffic crash that killed four people in Colorado.
Now Colorado Governor Jared Polis has stepped in to drastically reduce that sentence after backlash both across the U.S. and around the world.
The Charges Against Rogel Aguilera-Mederos
Back in 2019, then-23-year-old Rogel Aguilera-Mederos lost control of his semi-truck hauling lumber and caused a fiery crash in Lakewood, Colorado that resulted in four people dying and several more being injured.
KSBS-TV Denver reports that Aguilera-Mederos faced 42 counts, and was found guilty of the following charges in October of 2021:
- Vehicular homicide
- First-degree assault
- Attempted first-degree assault
- Reckless driving
- Careless driving
- Vehicular assault
Persecutors successfully argued that Aguilera-Mederos was speeding before he encountered traffic on I-70 that was stopped due to another crash, that he failed to use an emergency ramp designed for trucks before coming upon the traffic, and that he neglected the poor condition of his brakes.
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos Received A 110-Year Prison Sentence
In December of 2021, Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced to 110 years in prison.
KCNC-TV reports that the judge in this case felt he was bound by state guidelines requiring that the offender's sentence be no less than 110 years.
Almost immediately, a petition circulated around the globe calling for a reduced sentence. Even the district attorney who prosecuted the case told the Denver Post she would request a new sentence of 20 to 30 years, and Governor Polis said he would expedite a review of Aguilera-Mederos' clemency application.
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos's Sentenced Has Been Reduced to 10 Years
Gov. Polis acted far more quickly than perhaps many expected. KHOU-TV reported Thursday that Gov. Polis has used his influence to reduce the sentence to just 10 years.
In a letter to Aguilera-Mederos, Gov. Polis wrote:
I believe you deserve clemency for several reasons. You were sentenced to 110 years in prison, effectively more than a life sentence, for a tragic but unintentional act. While you are not blameless, your sentence is disproportionate compared with many other inmates in our criminal justice system who committed intentional, premeditated, or violent crimes.
Your highly unusual sentence highlights the lack of uniformity between sentences for similarly situated crimes, which is particularly true when individuals are charged with offenses that require mandatory minimum sentences. This case will hopefully spur an important conversation about sentencing laws, but any subsequent changes to the law would not retroactively impact your sentence, which is why I am granting you this limited commutation.
A family member of one of the victims killed reportedly spoke with Gov. Polis Thursday and agreed that the shorter sentence was more just.
Not every victim's family members were on board, and some still feel the fatal crash was the result of the driver's negligence and not any mechanical failure of his truck.
Many have argued that even though the crash may have been caused by negligence and recklessness on the part of Aguilera-Mederos, his sentence was the result of problematic mandatory minimum sentencing laws that need to be re-evaluated.
What Do You Think?
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