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Colorado governor reduces trucker's sentence to 10 years

Rogel Aguilera-Mederos.png
Posted at 6:45 PM, Dec 30, 2021

Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday reduced the sentence of the semi-truck driver convicted of killing four people in the April 2019 explosive crash on Interstate 70.

Polis granted a commutation to Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, reducing his sentence from 110 years to only 10 years.

The 26-year-old was given the 110-year sentence on Dec. 13. The judge who handed down the sentence was bound by the state's mandatory minimum sentencing rules.

Aguilera-Mederos was convicted on Oct. 15 on most of the 42 counts he faced, including four counts of vehicular homicide, first-degree assault, attempted first-degree assault, reckless driving, and careless driving.

Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano (24), Doyle Harrison (61), Bill Bailey (67), and Stanley Politano (69) were killed in the crash. Two others sustained serious bodily injuries.

Twenty-eight vehicles, including four semi-trucks, were damaged or caught on fire in the wake of the fiery crash on April 25, 2019. Investigators estimated he was going at least 85 miles an hour just before the crash.

He was driving a semi-truck carrying lumber eastbound I-70 down from the mountains into Lakewood.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Aguilera-Mederos could have taken steps to prevent the deadly crash, including using a runaway truck ramp miles before the crash, and that he “made a bunch of bad decisions” instead.

His defense attorneys claimed he did not know the truck’s brakes were smoking or that he would not be able to stop his truck, though others testified at the trial that they had seen them smoking.

The sentence given to Aguilera-Mederos drew outrage from around the country and among truck drivers, with around five million people signing an online petition seeking clemency for him.

In granting commutation, the governor’s office disclosed in a statement that a relative of Aguilera-Mederos works in the office, but “This individual had absolutely no involvement in the commutation process and works in an unrelated capacity to this matter, and was not aware of the Governor’s decision in advance," wrote Shelby Weiman, a spokesperson for Polis.

Robert Garrison at KMGH first reported this story.