Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is being denounced for his decision to reduce the sentence for a man who was sentenced to 110 years in jail for a 2019 chain reaction crash, which he caused.
In April 2019, Rogel Aguilera-Mederos was driving an 18-wheeler along Interstate 70 in Lakewood, Colorado. Aguilera-Mederos said that he lost the brakes on his truck, but he passed by a ramp designed for out-of-control trucks before crashing into traffic, according to KCNC-TV.
The ensuing crash left four people dead, many more injured and damaged or destroyed 28 vehicles. Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced to 110 years in prison.
On Thursday, Polis shaved 100 years off of the sentence, short-circuiting a planned Jan. 13 hearing to consider the length of the prison term that had been imposed.
Duane Bailey, who lost his brother William Bailey in the 2019 tragedy, attacked the reduction.
“As far as I’m concerned, [Polis] undermined the integrity of the courts,” Bailey said, according to KCNC-TV.
“[We] were going to have a say at the hearing,” he continued. “[Polis] deliberately announced it when he did because he knew it would get buried in the tragic news of the fires. So he took advantage of the poor people who [lost] their homes that day also. What [a] despicable human being!”
Bailey said he would have accepted a shorter sentence through the courts.
“The prosecutor was going to suggest 20-30 years. A number I would have supported,” he stated. “We did not hear the 110 year number until minutes before sentencing. Nobody thought that number was correct. We all agreed with the 20-30 years was what we could support.”
More than five million people signed an online petition to reduce the sentence, and celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, supported the reduction.
“The governor has decided political and social media pressure is more important than the victims of this crash,” Bailey stated.
Bailey said the pileup could have been avoided.
“This was not an accident, it was a series [of] decisions on the part of the driver that caused [four] deaths,” he explained. “The jury heard the evidence and convicted him.”
“The governor put himself above the law by not letting the court proceedings finish out. There was a hearing scheduled on January 13th to reconsider his sentence. The governor should have let that hearing take place.”
Bailey said the reduction means that Aguilera-Mederos could be out of jail soon.
“You also have to realize [Aguilera-Mederos] will not spend the entire 10 years the governor put his sentence at. He could get out in as little as 5 years,” he said. “Would your brother’s life be adequately compensated if he spent 1 1/4 years per death in prison?”
Bailey believed Polis was sending a troubling message.
“We as a society put penalties in place to punish those that do wrong and give an adequate incentive for others not to commit the same crime,” he said.
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