A Colorado prosecutor has asked a judge to reconsider a 110-year prison sentence for the truck driver who crashed his 18-wheeler, killing four people.
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was convicted in October on 42 counts, including vehicular homicide and first-degree assault stemming from the deadly April 25, 2019, crash on I-70 in Lakewood.
The Cuban immigrant also was found guilty of multiple counts of careless driving, reckless driving and vehicular assault.
He testified that he was hauling lumber when his brakes failed while the semi-trailer was descending a steep grade in the Rocky Mountain foothills.
Aguilera-Mederos’ truck plowed into vehicles that had slowed because of another wreck. He was traveling at least 85 mph on a part of the road where commercial vehicles are limited to 45 mph.
He said he was struggling to avoid traffic and to shift his truck into lower gears to slow it down.
Prosecutors argued that Aguilera-Mederos could have used a runaway ramp alongside the interstate that is designed to safely stop vehicles that have lost their brakes.
On Dec. 13, he was sentenced to 110 consecutive years behind bars — as he tearfully insisted that he’s “not a murderer.”
The lengthy sentence has attracted national attention, including from celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West, who tweeted about it Tuesday afternoon.
“I pray that Governor (Jared) Polis, who has been a leader on supporting reforms that increase human dignity in the legal system, will commute his sentence,” she wrote.
An online petition also has gathered millions of signatures calling for leniency for the driver.
First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King has filed a motion for the court to set a hearing to reconsider the sentence, her office said Tuesday.
“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,” it adds.
Prosecutors also are consulting with victims to get their input prior to any proceedings, according to the motion.
District Court Judge Bruce Jones said when he imposed the sentence that it was the mandatory minimum term set forth under state law — and suggested a lesser punishment was warranted.
Mandatory minimum sentencing laws required that sentences on 27 counts of vehicular assault, assault, reckless driving and other charges run consecutively.
“I will state that if I had the discretion, it would not be my sentence,” Jones said.
After the sentencing, King said she would welcome a reconsideration of the punishment.
But the prosecutor also told The Denver Post that Aguilera-Mederos didn’t accept efforts to negotiate a plea deal, and that the convictions recognized the harm caused to the victims.
In a statement, Polis’ office said “we welcome an application from Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos and will expedite consideration but have not received one yet at this time.”
Aguilera-Mederos’ attorney, James Colgan, told The Denver Post that he plans to appeal the verdict and that any application for clemency or leniency would have to wait pending that appeal.
The four men who died were all from Colorado: Doyle Harrison, 61, William Bailey, 67, Miguel Angel Lamas Arrellano, 24, and Stanley Politano, 69.
Their relatives said during sentencing that Aguilera-Mederos should serve time for the crimes.
Bailey’s brother, Duane, asked the judge to sentence Aguilera-Mederos to at least 20 years, The Denver Post reported.
“He made a deliberate and intentional decision that his life was more important than everyone else on the road that day,” he said.
Aguilera-Mederos wept as he apologized to the victims’ families and asked for their forgiveness.
“I am not a murderer. I am not a killer. When I look at my charges, we are talking about a murderer, which is not me,” he said. “I have never thought about hurting anybody in my entire life.”
With Post wires