DA asks court to reconsider 110-year sentence for Colorado truck driver

After millions signed a petition, the DA is looking to reconsider the 110-year sentence for truck driver, Rogel Aguilera-Mederos.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2021
DA asks court to reconsider sentence for Colorado truck driver
After more than 4.5 million people signed an online petition, a Colorado DA is asking the court to reconsider the 110-year sentence for a trucker convicted in a 2019 fatal crash.

After more than 4.5 million people signed a petition calling for leniency, Colorado prosecutors have started the process to reconsider the 110-year sentence for a trucker convicted in a crash that killed four people in 2019.

A petition on change.org for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos urges that his sentence be lowered, commuted for time served or that he be granted clemency.

Authorities at the time of sentencing said the term was the mandatory minimum set by law, but it could be reconsidered at a later date.

The Jefferson County District Attorney's Office confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday that the office has "filed a motion to start the reconsideration process on Friday afternoon."

"As Colorado law required the imposition of the sentence in this case, the law also permits the Court to reconsider its sentence in an exceptional case involving unusual and extenuating circumstances," the DA's motion states.

Prosecutors note they are also conferring with the families of victims in the case to consider their input for a court hearing on resentencing.

Several vehicles are on fire following a crash on eastbound Interstate 70 under the Denver West Colorado Mills Parkway bridge.

In April 2019, Aguilera-Mederos was driving a semi tractor-trailer, traveling at 85 mph, when the brakes failed, he told investigators at the time. He tried to pull over to the shoulder to avoid stopped traffic, but another semi had already stopped there, according to an arrest affidavit.

This resulted in a fiery 28-car pileup that killed four people on a highway in Denver.

The crash killed 24-year-old Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 67-year-old William Bailey, 61-year-old Doyle Harrison and 69-year-old Stanley Politano.

Relatives of victims said at Aguilera-Mederos' sentencing he should serve time for the crimes.

Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced last week after the 26-year-old was found guilty in October and convicted on vehicular homicide and 23 other charges.

MORE | Truck driver sentenced to 110 years in prison in deadly 28-car pileup in Colorado

"Your honor, I don't know why I'm alive." The Houston truck driver spoke emotionally in court as he was sentenced for a fiery crash that killed four people.

The other 23 charges included six counts of assault in the first degree -- extreme indifference; 10 counts of attempt to commit assault in the first degree -- extreme indifference; two counts of vehicular assault -- reckless; one count of reckless driving; and four counts of careless driving causing death.

Legal experts say because Colorado did away with the death penalty, life in prison is the harshest punishment possible.

"Once you have 23 felonies with mandatory minimums that are served consecutively, that can quickly add up," explained Ian Farrell, a law professor at the Sturm College of Law - University of Denver.

In imposing the sentence, District Court Judge Bruce Jones said it was the mandatory minimum term set forth under state law - and suggested a lesser punishment was warranted. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws required that sentences on 27 counts of vehicular assault, assault, reckless driving and other charges run consecutively.

"I will state that if I had the discretion, it would not be my sentence," the judge said.

The change.org petition, which is titled "Offer commutation as time served, or grant clemency to Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, 23" was created by a woman from Colorado who claims she has no relation to Aguilera-Mederos and is simply a supporter, according to the website.

"I made this petition because I am a native to Colorado, who believes this man is NOT a criminal and this was purely an accident," she wrote on a status update on Dec. 15. "I'm not related to Rogel, or any of his family, I simply believe that he doesn't deserve his sentence or these charges."

The petition goes on to say, "Rogel has said several times that he wishes he had the courage to crash and take his own life that day, this tragic accident wasn't done with Intent, it wasn't a criminal act, it was an accident."

A spokesperson for Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said, "We welcome an application" from the defense "and will expedite consideration."

Meantime, the families of those killed call the sentence appropriate under the law and say they're the real victims here.

ABC News, the Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.