The governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, granted this Thursday a measure of grace for the young Cuban truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos by reducing his sentence from 110 to 10 years in prison after the accident that killed four people.
In 2019, four people lost their lives and several more were injured when Aguilera-Mederos, 23 years old at the time, collided the timber truck that was driving into several stopped cars on Interstate 70, west of Denver.
The defense alleged that the brakes failed on the truck the young man was driving, who did not use the emergency ramp that could have prevented the tragedy.
State law requires that the sentence for some of the charges Aguilera-Mederos faced, including assault and attempted assault, be a minimum of 10 years and, furthermore, establishes that the sentences be served consecutively rather than simultaneously. for which the young Cuban was sentenced to 110 years a few weeks ago.
The magnitude of the sentence generated an intense debate in the US Millions of people and celebrities like Kim Kardashian demanded a measure of grace from Governor Polis, who finally granted it this Thursday.
“I think you deserve clemency for a number of reasons. You were sentenced to 110 years in prison, actually more than a life sentence, for a tragic but unintentional act ”, reads the letter from Polis to Aguilera-Mederos in which he granted the measure of grace. Aguilera-Mederos will also become eligible for future parole.
“Although you are not without guilt, your sentence is disproportionate compared to that of many other inmates in our criminal justice system who commit violent, willful, premeditated crimes.”
“The magnitude of the 110-year sentence is simply not commensurate with your actions or with the punishment given to others for similar cases,” he adds.
What happened in the accident
On April 25, 2019, Aguilera-Mederos lost control of the cargo truck driving down Interstate 70 near a shopping center west of Denver.
As confirmed by investigators in the case, the truck’s brakes began to overheat on a steep descent and Aguilera-Mederos continued on his way despite seeing smoke coming from them.
When the truck’s brakes failed completely, Aguilera-Mederos did not use the emergency ramp that could have stopped the vehicle, and incidentally avoided the tragedy, but instead crashed the truck into several vehicles that were stopped on the interstate due to an accident. previous accident in the area.
The impact was so hard that it ended the life of Miguel Ángel Lamas Arellano, 24; William Baily, 67; Doyle Harrison, 61, and Stanley Politano, 69.
According to Aguilera-Mederos’ statement, the young man “thought he was going to die so he closed his eyes before colliding with parked traffic.”
Prosecutors in the case argued that Aguilera-Mederos had had several opportunities to avoid the tragedy and that it was his bad decisions that had caused the incident.
This is why the jury found the young man guilty of six counts of first degree assault with “extreme indifference”; ten counts of attempted first degree assault with “extreme indifference”; two counts of vehicular assault; a reckless driving charge; and four counts of reckless driving causing death.
Duane Bailey, the brother of one of the victims, told the local newspaper The Denver Post: “He made the deliberate and intentional decision that his life was more important than everyone else on the road that day.”
“I am not a criminal”
During the trial, the young truck driver cried and apologized to the victims’ families.
“I am not a criminal,” he said. “I am not a murderer. When I see the charges against me, we are talking about a murderer and that is not me. I have never thought of hurting someone in my life. “
He added that his life after the incident has been “difficult” and that he continually thinks about the people who died.
“I lost my brakes. Truckers know this is a difficult time, there is nothing you can do. You can’t do anything, ”Aguilera-Mederos said during the reading of the sentence.
Kim Kardashian’s complaint
The sentence against Aguilera-Mederos aroused the solidarity of millions of people and even led the prosecution to request a review of it.
“As Colorado law required the imposition of the sentence in this case, the law also allows the Court to reconsider its sentence in an exceptional case that involves unusual and extenuating circumstances,” said the prosecutor.
A clemency petition for the young man on the Change.org platform received millions of signatures.
The reality star Kim Kardashian He also published in his networks a message of solidarity with Aguilera-Mederos, joining his voice to that of numerous jurists and activists who have condemned the so-called mandatory minimum sentences, which allowed a 110-year sentence for the Cuban.
“Mandatory minimums eliminate judicial discretion and must be eliminated,” he wrote. “The laws of Colorado really have to be changed.”
Kardashian recalled how the judge in the case himself recognized that he would not have wanted to sentence the young man to such a long sentence, but that state laws did not allow him to reduce it at his discretion.