The first judicial district attorney, Alexis King, quietly decided to reduce the 110 year sentence for the truck driver who killed four people on Interstate 70, just four days after a judge handed down the jail sentence in the 2019 crash.
King began the process to potentially reduce Rogel Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence on Friday – a sharp about-face for his office, which pursued the charges that assured him he would go to jail for decades if convicted .
She only announced the move on Tuesday, as an online petition calling for a reduced sentence reached more than 4.5 million signatures and Governor Jared Polis said he would expedite the review. a request for clemency from the truck driver.
King filed a request with the court for a hearing in which District Court Judge Bruce Jones may, under the law, reconsider the mandatory minimum sentence for Aguilera-Mederos. Under the state mandatory minimum sentencing lawsJones may reconsider a sentence in âunusual and extenuating circumstancesâ after receiving a report from the Department of Corrections regarding Aguilera-Mederos.
Jones said when he sentenced Aguilera-Mederos last week that he had no discretion to impose a different jail term, but would if he could. He indicated he would be willing to reconsider the sentence through the process detailed in state law.
On Tuesday, Jones scheduled a hearing in the case for Monday to discuss King’s request and whether she moved too quickly. The law states that a sentence change cannot take effect until at least 119 days after a defendant enters prison.
The Department of Corrections must submit its report on Aguilera-Mederos within 91 days of his being taken into custody, but King said in court documents that the prison system’s report could be completed as early as Thursday. King’s request asks that the hearing be scheduled “as soon as possible after receipt of the report.”
King said in a motion that his office is talking with victims in the case to see where they stand on a reduced sentence and will provide that information to Jones once it’s gathered.
During The sentencing of Aguilera-Mederos last week, many of the victims who spoke out said they thought Aguilera-Mederos should spend time in jail. A family member of a deceased man said he did not want to see Aguilera-Mederos spend the rest of his life in prison, but wanted him to serve at least two decades.
King’s office won convictions for 16 first-degree assaults and attempted first-degree assault charges against Aguilera-Mederos. These âviolent crimesâ must be sentenced consecutively, not simultaneously, under Coloradoâs mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which strip judges’ decision-making and giving prosecutors enormous power to determine how much jail time a defendant will face if convicted.
James Colgan, Aguilera-Mederos’ defense attorney, said Tuesday that King’s request was for “political survival.”
“It’s political jamming,” he said. “They feel a lot of heat and they want to get their foot out of the fire as quickly as possible.”
Aguilera-Mederos filed a clemency petition with the governor’s office on Monday, Colgan said. He added that Aguilera-Mederos did not trust the district attorney’s office to “come up with a fair number.”
He declined to say what sort of sentence he would deem appropriate. In the days following the sentencing, the case garnered national attention, including from Kim Kardashian West, who called it “so unfair” in a tweet on Tuesday.
Aguilera-Mederos testified at his triall that he lost his brakes in the Colorado highlands and couldn’t control his tractor-trailer on April 25, 2019. He ran over at least one runaway truck ramp – a safety device designed specifically to stop trucks that lose their brakes on highway mountain passes – and was seen driving recklessly fast in the hours before the accident, prosecutors said at trial. He at some point realized he had a problem with his brakes and pulled over, but then continued driving, prosecutors said.
After losing his brakes, Aguilera-Mederos drove down the shoulder of the highway until his path was blocked by a tractor-trailer parked under an overpass in Lakewood. At that time, Aguilera-Mederos turned his semi-trailer into stopped traffic, killing four people and injuring others.
A jury in October found Aguilera-Mederos guilty on four counts of homicide while driving, six counts of first-degree assault, 10 counts of attempted first-degree assault, four counts of reckless driving causing death, two counts of assault while driving a motor vehicle and a leader of reckless driving.