The truck driver sentenced to 110 years in prison for a fiery, fatal crash in Colorado had his jail time cut by a century Thursday by Colorado’s governor.
Gov. Jared Polis granted the commutation to Rogel Aguilera-Mederos after social justice activists brought nationwide attention to the case. The 26-year-old will now face 10 years in prison and be eligible for parole after five years, on Dec. 30, 2026.
“The length of your 110-year sentence is simply not commensurate with your actions, nor with penalties handed down to others for similar crimes,” Polis wrote in a clemency letter to Aguilera-Mederos that was publicly released. “There is an urgency to remedy this unjust sentence and restore confidence in the uniformity and fairness of our criminal justice system, and consequently I have chosen to commute your sentence now.”
A judge handed down the sentence Dec. 13, saying that he was bound by mandatory sentencing laws and would not have been so harsh if he had legal leeway.
Aguilera-Mederos was driving a tractor-trailer on Interstate 70 in Lakewood, just west of Denver, when his brakes went out during rush hour traffic on April 25, 2019. Aguilera-Mederos was traveling eastbound out of the Rocky Mountains and was unable to stop. His truck eventually barreled through several vehicles in a wreck that killed four people.
Shortly after the onerous sentence came down, millions of people petitioned in support of Aguilera-Mederos. A district attorney had asked the court to reconsider the case, and on Monday the judge agreed to do it.
It wasn’t immediately clear Thursday if the new hearing would still take place after Polis commuted the sentence.
“At the end of the day, this arbitrary and unjust sentence was the result of a law of Colorado passed by the legislature and signed by a prior Governor and is not the fault of the judge who handed down the mandatory sentence required by the law in this case,” Polis wrote in his clemency letter.
Aguilera-Mederos was convicted in October 2021 on 27 counts, including vehicular homicide, first-degree assault, attempted first-degree assault, reckless driving and careless driving.
“It hurts, I ask God too many times why them and not me?” Aguilera-Mederos said during a tearful statement at his sentencing hearing. “Why did I survive that accident?”
The harsh sentence for an unintentional crime fired up many criminal justice advocates, including Kim Kardashian.
“Mandatory minimums take away judicial discretion and need to end,” she said last week. Kardashian tweeted her thanks to Polis on Thursday.
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