A Colorado jury convicted Rogel Aguilera-Mederos in October for a 2019 trucking accident that killed four people. At the time, Rogel told police the brakes on the semi tractor-trailer failed on Interstate 70 near Denver. According to CNN, he was going 85 mph. The jury found Rogel guilty on several charges, including vehicular homicide, first-degree assault, attempted first-degree assault, vehicular assault and reckless driving to name a few. Then, on Monday, Judge Bruce Jones sentenced Rogel to 110 years in prison for the accident.
Judge Hands Sentence, But Lawyer Plans To Appeal
“I accept and respect what the defendant has said about his lack of intent to hurt people, but he made a series of terrible decisions, reckless decisions,” Judge Jones said at Monday’s sentencing.
The judge also clarified that under his discretion, 110 years “would not be [his] sentence.” However, Judge Jones was apparently bound by Colorado’s mandatory-minimum sentencing laws for some of the charges.
Still, Rogel’s lawyer James Colgan plans to appeal. James told CNN Rogel doesn’t deserve to die in prison. James said their appeal will focus on “the facts and mistakes made in the trial.” He said the issue isn’t with the sentence but the law itself, which he described as “barbaric and Draconian.”
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Details About The Deadly Accident
During the trial, Lakewood Police Department testified that no alcohol or drugs were involved in the accident. The arrest affidavit says Rogel tried to avoid hitting traffic by driving unto the highway’s shoulder. However, Rogel says another semi-truck was already stopped there. Moments before crashing, Rogel said he closed his eyes because he thought he was going to die. The result was a 28-car pile up that killed four people between ages 24-69. CBS Denver reported that the highway was shut down for 24 hours for folks traveling in either direction.
At the time of the accident, Rogel was 23 years old. His lawyer described him a Cuban immigrant who “greatly valued his life in America,” per CBS Denver. He has no prior criminal record. He obtained his commercial license out of Texas. Friends and family painted him as “a good young man” who is married and father to a son.
“I am begging for forgiveness. I wish for all the heartfelt pain to go away from all our hearts,” Rogel said through tears at the sentencing.
In a separate interview with CBS, the former driver also admitted to wishing he died instead of 61-year-old Doyle Harrison, 67-year-old William Bailey, 24-year-old Miguel Angel Lamas and 69-year-old Stanley Politano, 69.
Public Calls For Different Outcome
Meanwhile, it appears the public is on Rogel’s side following the harsh sentence. Multiple petitions have popped on Change.org following the news. One in particular, calling for commutation as time served or clemency, boasts over three million signatures as of Friday afternoon.
Folks are also asking Colorado Governor Jared Polis to intervene. The governor responded to the questions of clemency on Thursday.
“We review all clemency applications, we’ve yet to receive one from the individual but every clemency application that we receive, we review and make a determination,” Gov. Polis said.
This is a developing story.
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