Family of Colo. truck driver sentenced to 110 years calls for clemency

FILE - Workers clear debris from the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 on April 26, 2019, in Lakewood, Colo., following a deadly pileup involving a semi-truck hauling lumber. A truck driver who was convicted of causing the fiery pileup that killed four people and injured six others on Interstate 70 west of Denver was sentenced Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, to 110 years in prison. Rogel Aguilera-Mederos was convicted in October of vehicular homicide and other charges stemming from the April 2019 crash. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

FILE – Workers clear debris from the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 on April 26, 2019, in Lakewood, Colo., following a deadly pileup involving a semi-truck hauling lumber. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

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UPDATED 10:44 AM PT – Thursday, December 23, 2021

Nearly four million people have signed a petition for a trucker who was sentenced more than 100 years in prison for a fiery crash. The petition comes days after 26-year-old Rogel Aguilera-Mederos was given his sentence, where he was found guilty on 24 counts including vehicular homicide.

“This was a terrible accident. I know I take the responsibility, but it wasn’t intentional,” said Aguilera-Mederos.

In 2019, the Colorado truck driver was driving on Interstate-70 in Lakewood when his commercial vehicle lost its brakes. Aguilera-Mederos passed a runaway truck ramp, which prosecutors focused heavily on. After losing his brakes, his truck hit dozens of vehicles in a fiery crash, killing four people and injuring several more.

FILE - This file photo provided by the Lakewood Police Department on Friday, April 26, 2019, shows Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos. Aguilera-Mederos, 25, was convicted by a Jefferson County jury, on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, in connection with the crash that filled four people and injured six others, the Denver Post reported. Aguilera-Mederos was found guilty of six counts of vehicular homicide six counts of first-degree assault and multiple other charges. He was acquitted of 15 other counts of attempted first-degree assault.(Lakewood Police Department via AP, File)

Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos. Aguilera-Mederos, 25. (Lakewood Police Department via AP, File)

“It’s unbelievable honestly because it could happen anytime, anywhere, and if the brakes fail the brakes fail, it’s a malfunction,” said truck driver David Splain.

Millions are now asking for Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) to grant him clemency or commutation as time served. Organizers of the petition said no one but the company that the trucker was employed by should be held accountable.

However, officials said a shorter sentence wasn’t possible under Colorado law, which has mandatory minimum rules and sentence enhancers stricter than most states.

“So, even if he’s sentenced to the minimum, there’s so many charges and so many victims that it adds up in an unbelievably long, basically life, sentence like this,” said Criminal Defense Attorney Jay Tiftickjian.

As the case continues to gain national attention, Gov. Polis’ office said they are aware of the petition, and he and his team review each clemency application individually.

On Wednesday, the family and lawyers for the 26-year-old held a rally in front of the Colorado State Capitol.

“We are here today to make our voice heard loud and clear. Governor Polis, we want you to reduce or give clemency for the unfair sentencing of 110 years for this young man. It is harsh and does not represent due process for anyone,” said Ramona Martinez, former Denver City council member.

Meanwhile, District Judge Bruce Jones, who worked on the case, has admitted he doesn’t believe Aguilera-Mederos deserves life behind bars, adding his hands were tied to Colorado’s sentencing laws. He stated, “if I had the discretion, it would not be my sentence.”

As of Wednesday evening, the petition to commute the Colorado truck driver’s sentence or to grant him clemency, garnered 4.7 million signatures. The petition claims the incident was obviously not an intentional act, pointing to Aguilera-Mederos’ squeaky-clean record before the incident. It also added that he passed every single drug and alcohol test, and complied with law enforcement officials every step of the way.

On Tuesday, Colorado’s first district attorney, Alexis King, announced she has filed a motion for the court to reconsider the sentencing.

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