Rogel Aguilera-Mederos: governor reduces trucker’s sentence by 100 years after outcry
The governor of Colorado on Thursday commuted the 110-year prison sentence of truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos to just 10 years, calling the lengthy penalty for a fatal roadway accident “unjust.” “I am writing to inform you that I am granting your application for a commutation,” Governor Polis wrote to the trucker, who was sentenced earlier this month. “After learning about the highly atypical and unjust sentence in your case, I am commuting your sentence to 10 years and granting you parole eligibility on December 30, 2026.”
Aguilera-Mederos celebrated the announcement and thanked his supporters on Thursday. “This commutation is far more reflective of the crime than 110 years,” his attorney James Colgan told ABC News. “Mr Mederos will be forever grateful for the millions of people that supported him.” First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King’s office prosecuted the case and eventually asked a judge to reconsider the case.
A hearing was set for 13 January, but the commutation has rendered it moot, a decision the prosecutor condemned. “I joined the surviving victims and families of those who lost their loved ones in their wish to have the trial judge determine an appropriate sentence in this case, as he heard the facts and evidence of the defendant’s destructive conduct that led to death, injury, and devastating destruction,” Ms King said in a statement. “We are meeting with the victims and their loved ones this evening to support them in navigating this unprecedented action and to ensure they are treated with fairness, dignity, and respect during this difficult time.”
In 2019, Aguilera-Mederos, then 23, crashed his truck into stopped traffic on I-70 near Denver, Colorado, killing four people and injuring others in a 28-vehicle pileup. The driver claimed his brakes failed, but police noted he was driving 85 mph in a 45 mph zone and went past a runaway truck ramp before the crash. The victims were Doyle Harrison, 61, William Bailey, 67, Miguel Angel Lamas Arrellano, 24, and Stanley Politano, 69.
This December, the trucker was sentenced to 110 years in prison as a result of 27 separate charges, the strongest of them felony assault. Judge A Bruce Jones, who oversaw the case, said he didn’t want to give the Cuban immigrant what was effectively a life sentence, but Colorado law required him to assign the prison terms to be served consecutively rather than concurrently. In court earlier this year, the trucker broke down as he reflected on the tragedy.
“Your honour I don’t know why I’m alive. Like for what? … I ask God too many times why them and not me?
Why did I survive that accident?” he said, adding that he was “not a criminal” and was “sorry” for the trauma he has caused. The case, and the eye-popping final sentence, attracted national attention, with everyone from former jurors to truckers to Kim Kardashian calling for a reduced penalty.
A screenshot of an Instagram post from influencer Kim Kardashian in support of Rogel Aguilera-Mederos. (Instagram/@kimkardashian)
A Change.org petition in support of Aguilera-Mederos was one of the fastest growing US petitions on the site in 2021.
Family members of crash victims also spoke out on the case.
Cathi Politano told ABC7 her husband would have wanted his family to “take the high road”.
“He would say, ‘Take the high road,’ so we will,” she said. “He wasn’t a man of vengeance.”