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The governor of Colorado has cut the sentence of a truck driver who was behind the wheel of a big rig responsible for a deadly 2019 highway crash by 100 years after a public campaign, but not everyone is happy about the reduction.
Colorado District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones sentenced Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, 26, last month to 110 years in prison for his role in the fatal wreck, which killed four people on Interstate 70 in Lakewood. Prosecutors said Aguilera-Mederos acted criminally when he failed to take a runaway ramp after his brakes failed.
But soon, people around the country expressed outrage over the sentence, as many pointed out that the trucker wasn’t intoxicated or malicious. More than 4 million people signed a Change.org petition asking Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to either grant clemency to or commute the sentence of Aguilera-Mederos.
On Dec. 30, Polis reduced the sentence by a century and made it so that parole is on the table for the trucker.
“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 the clemency letter. “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.”
A jury found Aguilera-Mederos guilty of 27 out of 41 charges for causing the fiery crash. He was also found guilty of four counts of vehicular homicide — one for each person who perished in the fiery pile-up crash: Doyle Harrison, 61; William Bailey, 67; Stanley Politano, 69; and Miguel Lamas Arrellano, 24.
Duane Bailey, brother of William Bailey, expressed anger over the weekend over the reduction, calling Polis "despicable."
“The governor has decided political and social media pressure is more important than the victims of this crash,” he told CBS Denver.
He feels that a decade is too lenient. While he said he does not agree with the essential life sentence that Aguilera-Mederos received last month, he feels he deserves more time.
“We did not hear the 110 year number until minutes before sentencing,” he said. “Nobody thought that number was correct. We all agreed with the 20-30 years was what we could support.”
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