Colorado governor grants clemency to truck driver sentenced to 110 years over fatal 2019 collision

A truck driver who was sentenced to 110 years in prison after causing a multicar pile-up in Colorado in 2019 will spend much less time behind bars.

According to Fox News, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) commuted the sentence Thursday of 26-year-old Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, who was driving near Denver when his brakes reportedly failed. The resulting crash left four people dead and many others injured.

The move from Polis, which reduced the truck driver’s sentence to just 10 years, came after fierce public backlash over Aguilera-Mederos’ initial sentence,¬†which even the judge admitted he wouldn’t have handed down if he’d had a choice in the matter. Within days of the sentencing hearing, millions of people had signed a petition asking for the governor to grant clemency in the case.

“I am not a killer”

Prosecutors, however, argued that Aguilera-Mederos, who was 23 at the time, had multiple avenues of avoiding the collision, including several runaway truck ramps.

The truck driver had faced 42 charges, according to ABC News, and was found guilty on 27 counts earlier this month. “[T]he most serious was first-degree assault, a class-three felony,” ABC reported.

Because of mandatory minimums, the judge was required to pass down a sentence of over 100 years to the 26-year-old.

“I am not a criminal. I am not a murderer. I am not a killer,” Aguilera-Mederos said during his sentencing, according to Newsweek. “When I look at my charges, we are talking about a murderer, which is not me. I have never thought about hurting anybody in my entire life.”

“Tragic but unintentional”

A lawyer for Aguilera-Mederos’ said the truck driver was shocked and grateful when he learned the governor had commuted his sentence.

“Rogel is very grateful for all the support he’s gotten not only locally, but nationally. He’s humbled by it,” the attorney said, according to ABC.

Aguilera-Mederos will be eligible for parole in late December 2026, Fox reports.

“You were sentenced to 110 years in prison, effectively more than a life sentence, for a tragic but unintentional act,” Polis wrote in a letter to the truck driver regarding the commutation, according to USA Today. “While you are not blameless, your sentence is disproportionate compared with many other inmates in our criminal justice system who committed intentional, premeditated, or violent crimes.”

Polis also used the opportunity to call for a reexamination of Colorado’s sentencing guidelines. He wrote to the truck driver:

The length of your 110-year sentence is simply not commensurate with your actions, nor with penalties handed down to others for similar crimes. There is an urgency to remedy this unjust sentence and restore confidence in the uniformity and fairness of our criminal justice system, and consequently I have chosen to commute your sentence now.

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