DENVER – A Colorado prosecutor went to court on Monday in a rare attempt to seek a reduced prison sentence for a vans the driver was sentenced to 110 years behind bars for vehicle murder stemming from a fiery crash in 2019 along a mountainous highway that left four drivers dead.
Jefferson County District Attorney Alexis King is asking the judge to re-sentence Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos to a prison sentence of 20 to 30 years, arguing for greater leniency in a highly publicized case that public prosecutors The prosecutor argued that there was no criminal intent.
Aguilera-Mederos was found guilty by a grand jury in October of four counts of murder and multiple counts of assault and reckless driving in the April 2019 crash.
District Court Judge Bruce Jones said in sentencing the 110-year sentence on December 13 that he would not impose such a long term but only the minimum penalties required by state law.
At trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Aguilera-Mederos, who was transporting a load of lumber, had received improper mountain driving training.
He knows brake His tractor-trailer broke down but was still descending the mountain, prosecutors said, crossing a section of the truck road and crashing into a stopped vehicle along the road, prosecutors said. following Interstate 70 west of Denver when he lost control of the vehicle.
Prosecutors have never charged that 26-year-old Aguilera-Mederos, a Cuban immigrant with no criminal record, is impaired or has any criminal intent.
At sentencing, Aguilera-Mederos wept as she pleaded for forgiveness and clemency. “I’ve never thought about hurting anyone in all my life,” he said.
The case has attracted national attention with nearly 5 million people signing an online petition calling for clemency.
At Monday’s hearing, Jones said there was virtually no precedent for prosecutors, rather than defense attorneys, to seek a reduced sentence in such a case. Jones ordered both parties to file summaries and set up another hearing on January 13.
Defense attorney James Colgan called King’s move “unnecessary”.
“Two weeks ago, they (prosecutors) were perfectly fine with my client being 110 years old until there was a public outcry,” he told Reuters after Monday’s hearing. “It’s all political.”
At a news conference after the hearing where she declined to answer questions, King said she consulted the victim’s family and survivors before urging a lighter sentence.
King said she acted “so that the court could consider an alternative sentence that is not bound by the mandatory sentencing structure.”
Colgan said he’s uncertain about the ramifications for future appeals if he agrees to prosecutors’ recommendation, so he has no place at Monday’s hearing.
“This is unprecedented. It just hasn’t happened before,” he said.