Rogel Aguilera-Mederos: Colorado lorry driver’s sentence sparks uproar

Image source, Lakewood Police Department/FacebookImage caption, Rogel Aguilera-Mederos was convicted of killing four people in a truck crash

"If I had the discretion, it would not be my sentence," the judge said after Rogel Aguilera-Mederos was convicted.

His lorry had ploughed into traffic on a mountain road in Colorado in April 2019, killing four people.

Convicted on 27 counts, the 26-year-old was handed a 110-year prison term the judge said he was forced to impose.

The sentence sparked uproar. Some 4.5 million have signed a petition on Change.org asking for clemency and Kim Kardashian weighed in on social media.

She posted on Twitter calling on Colorado's governor to "do the right thing".

One anonymous juror in the case told the local Fox station "I cried my eyes out", after the sentencing.

Governor Jared Polis says his office is reviewing the case, and the district attorney has asked the court to reconsider the sentence.

Truck drivers announced on social media they would boycott Colorado after the ruling.

'Losing faith in America's justice system'

Aguilera-Mederos was transporting lumber in the Rocky Mountains foothills when the deadly crash took place.

The lorry careened downhill into stationary traffic, bursting into flames and causing a major pile up.

Four people – Stanley Politano, 69, William Bailey, 67, Doyle Harrison, 61, and Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 24 – were killed.

Aguilera-Mederos told officials that his brakes had failed, and that he had tried his best to avoid other vehicles as he lost control of his truck.

He wept in court and begged for forgiveness from the victims' families. "I am not a criminal," he said, insisting he had "never thought about hurting anyone in my entire life".

But prosecutors argued that the 26-year-old knew his brakes were failing. They said he dangerously weaved between vehicles, and that he drove past at least one runaway truck ramp – long lanes at the side of roads designed for vehicles with brake problems to drive into and stop safely.

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The court convicted Aguilera-Mederos on dozens of charges, including vehicular homicide and vehicular assault.

But it was the sentence that sparked controversy and calls for it to be overturned.

Judge Bruce Jones told the court that – under Colorado law – he had to impose the mandatory minimum sentence for all convictions, and that they must be served consecutively.

A Cuban immigrant, Aguilera-Mederos had no previous criminal record, and officials said no alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash. His lawyers have said he will appeal.

A Denver Post editorial said the sentence was "far too severe", concluding: "We are losing faith in America's justice system, and clemency is one way to ensure the scales of justice remain balanced."

Kim Kardashian, who is one step closer to becoming a lawyer after passing a key exam, posted about the case on Instagram and Twitter.

I know everyone has been posting about Rogel Aguilera-Mederos this week. I took a deep dive in it to figure out what the situation is. pic.twitter.com/617xtcGOMK

— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) December 21, 2021
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

"Mandatory minimums take away judicial discretion and need to end," she wrote.

"I pray that Governor Polis, who has been a leader on supporting reforms that increase human dignity in the legal system, will commute his sentence."

A mandatory minimum sentence is a pre-determined term for certain crimes – for instance, people convicted of murder getting a mandatory life sentence.

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