Colorado gov. shortens Rogel Aguilera-Mederos' 'unjust' sentence to 10 years from 110
12/31/2021 12:31 pm PST
DENVER (TCD) -- Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced Thursday he commuted Rogel Aguilera-Mederos' prison sentence to 10 years from the original 110 ordered by a judge in December.
Polis called Aguilera-Mederos' sentence "highly atypical and unjust" in his clemency letter and listed "several reasons" as to why he believed the sentence should be lowered. Polis wrote the 110-year sentence was "effectively more than a life sentence" for something that was a "tragic but unintentional act."
He said, "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 said there was a "lack of uniformity between sentences for similarly situated crimes" and hopes this will open conversation in the future about sentencing laws.
The governor wrote, "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."
Polis noted in his letter that Aguilera-Mederos' conviction was "serious" because four people died in the accident and several others were injured. However, Polis said he was "encouraged by your personal reflection and the commercial vehicle safety changes that were made in the wake of this tragedy to ensure this type of event never happens again."
He ended the letter, "You have wondered why your life was spared when other lives were taken. You will struggle with this burden of this event for the rest of your life, but never forget that because of this event, countless others will struggle with the loss of their loved ones or injuries as well. And you will serve your just sentence."
Aguilera-Mederos will be eligible for parole Dec. 30, 2026.
In December, prosecutors sought to lessen Aguilera-Mederos' sentence to 20 to 30 years and a second hearing was scheduled for Jan. 13. A petition online garnered over 5 million signatures asking the governor to grant clemency or offer commutation.
According to KDVR-TV, Aguilera-Mederos' attorney Leonard Martinez wrote in a statement, "We are very grateful for the Governor’s thoughtful consideration throughout this process and for his willingness to grant clemency for a reduced sentence. The judge’s sentence of 110 years is unjust and not in line with prior case law, and we are thankful that the Governor agrees with us. We are reviewing this commutation of the sentence with Rogel and his family. The potential for Rogel to be reunited with his family rather than spend a lifetime behind bars is exciting for all involved."
Additionally, First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King, who sought the lower sentence for Aguilera-Mederos, said in a statement she was "disappointed in the Governor's decision to act prematurely."
King wrote, "I joined the surviving victims and families of those who lost their loved ones in their wish to have the trial judge determine an appropriate sentence in this case, as he heard the facts and evidence of the defendant’s destructive conduct that led to death, injury, and devastating destruction."
She continued, "We are meeting with the victims and their loved ones this evening to support them in navigating this unprecedented action and to ensure they are treated with fairness, dignity, and respect during this difficult time. We look forward to sharing more information with our community that we were ethically prohibited from releasing while the case was pending."
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