Update: After a public outcry, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has shortened the prison sentence of a truck driver convicted in a 2019 fatal crash. Rogel Aguilera-Mederos' term was cut from 110 years to 10, the AP reports. The reduction was included among several commutations and pardons issued by the governor on Thursday. Our original story from Dec. 27 follows:
A truck driver sentenced to 110 years for an explosive crash that killed four people in suburban Denver moved a step closer Monday to potentially having his prison term reduced, the AP reports. Judge Bruce Jones scheduled a hearing for Jan. 13 to reconsider Rogel Aguilera-Mederos' sentence following widespread outrage over the severity of his punishment and an unusual request by prosecutors to revisit the matter. During a virtual hearing to discuss the request, one of Aguilera-Mederos’ lawyers, James Colgan, said the defense needed some time to do research to see if there were any similar cases that could help guide its approach.
Jones said he wanted to learn more about whether the law that allowed him to reconsider the sentence gave him discretion to set whatever sentence he wanted. He said victims would be able to speak at the in-person hearing about whether Aguilera-Mederos should be resentenced. But he noted he did not want them to go through that stress unless they wished to. “I am a captive audience if they want to speak to me,” he said. Jones imposed the 110-year sentence against Aguilera-Mederos on Dec. 13 after finding it was the mandatory minimum term set forth under state law, but said at the time he did not agree with it. Around 5 million people have signed an online petition seeking clemency for Aguilera-Mederos. In addition to the prosecution's request to lower the sentence, Aguilera-Mederos has requested clemency from Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.
Last week, District Attorney Alexis King said in a statement she would seek a term of 20 to 30 years in the 2019 wreck on Interstate 70 west of Denver. She said that sentencing range reflects an “appropriate outcome” for Aguilera-Mederos' conduct, noting that the crash was not an accident. After Monday's hearing, King said her office made the reconsideration request to give the court the ability to impose a sentence not bound by the state's mandatory sentencing laws. She said the judge, knowing the case well, was in the best position to decide a new sentence and urged people to be patient as the court process plays out.
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