Calls are growing to change the 110-year prison sentence handed down to a truck driver who caused a fatal crash near Denver in 2019. A Colorado judge sentenced Rogel Aguilera-Mederos after a jury found him guilty on four counts of vehicular homicide and 23 other charges related to the accident. There has been considerable backlash, with more than 4.6 million people having signed the change.org petition, asking Colorado Governor Jared Polis to grant clemency to Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, or commutation for time served. Various groups and activists will convene at the state Capitol Wednesday to urge Polis to reduce Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence as soon as possible. Governor Polis’ office has received a clemency request and is reviewing the sentence, according to a spokesperson.
Driver’s Lawyer Files Motion in Court
A motion filed on Tuesday, which will be a major part of wednesdays proceedings, says as follows:
“As Colorado law required the imposition of the sentence in this case, the law also permits the Court to reconsider its sentence in an exceptional case involving unusual and extenuating circumstances,” the motion states. “This would allow for the conditions to be met for a modification of the defendant’s sentence as was discussed by the People in the initial sentencing hearing. The purpose for the People’s expedited request is so that the named victims in the case, as well as their families, have an opportunity to be heard by the trial court who is fully aware of the facts of the case,” the motion continues. “We have spoken to the living victims and the families of the deceased victims, and it is their specific desire to be heard on this modification, in this forum, as quickly as possible.”
Driver Gives Tearful Apology in Court
The sentence has since set off a torrent of criticism of prosecutors and Colorado’s sentencing guidelines. Even Colorado District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones seemed not to agree with it but said he was bound by state laws on mandatory-minimum sentencing that required him to impose the punishment to run consecutively as opposed to concurrently. Aguilera-Mederos said in court last week that he is devastated over what happened. While tearfully begging for forgiveness, he told the court that he “cries all the time” when thinking about the accident. “I would have preferred God taken me, instead of them,” he said while fighting back tears. “I don’t get to have my dad for the rest of my life, but I hope the defendant’s son can have his dad for the rest of his life,” one woman said in court.
Prosecutors Treat Case like a Joke
Kayla Wildeman, the prosecutor in the case, has come under fire after a now-deleted Facebook post on her personal page showed an image of a trophy made from a brake shoe to celebrate the conviction. “Get yourself a trial partner as great as Trevor Moritzky,” the post reads. “He turned a brake shoe from a semi truck into a memento. What a special gift from a truly special person. I never asked for a new bff at work, let alone one that is old enough to be my father (no offense) but I sure am grateful this trial brought you into my career as both a colleague and a friend! Words will never convey how lucky I am to have gotten the opportunity to learn from you!” Mortizky is a senior district attorney who worked with Wildeman on the case, according to local reports. The piece was not from evidence in the case. A spokesperson said the joke was “in poor taste” and “handled internally.”
It is absolutely outrageous that people, who are essentially representatives of the states, could be allowed to make such a joke and keep their position. This was a horribly tragic accident, which ended in loss of life and many injuries. How could you think it would be okay to turn something that has deeply impacted so many people into a personal joke? Do you think the driver’s sentence should be reduced or commuted? Should the amount, or lack of, training the driver had been a factor that should have been determined? What do you think you would have done in this tragic situation?