Victims and relatives speak out on the trucker’s 110-year sentence
DENVER (KDVR) – As millions have signed a petition demanding leniency for the trucker in a fiery Colorado crash that killed four people, survivors speak about the crash from their perspective.
Several crash victims and their family members spoke with NewsNation affiliate KDVR on Thursday morning. Together, they criticized the coverage of clemency calls as attention increased across the country. They believe the details revealed during the trial do not receive the same attention and that those details led to the 110-year sentence for truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos.
Victims who spoke on Thursday said Aguilera-Mederos would have to serve a sentence, but knew he was going to appeal for a reduction in his sentence. They think the governor shouldn’t get involved and should let the legal process go.
William (Bill) Bailey, 67, from Arvada, died in the crash. Bailey’s brother Duane said the length of the sentence was unexpected.
âNone of us expected or wanted him to spend 110 years in prison,â said Duane Bailey. “It was an act of neglect and carelessness on the part of the driver.”
Bill Bailey’s wife Gage Evans said victims understood the mandatory minimum sentences law.
âI agree that the 110-year sentence is a mathematical calculation the judge had to make to comply with the minimum sentence law. It doesn’t make sense for him to serve 110. We’re looking for him to serve time, but not that much, âEvans said.
A truck driver involved in the crash said Aguilera-Mederos was reckless and irresponsible. âIt’s not an easy job and we are held to a higher standard. He has to serve his sentence. You are responsible for your own vehicle as a truck driver, âsaid Gregorio Salinas. “He was basically playing with fire and he got burned.”
âI didn’t think too much about the sentence,â Salinas said. “The DA said the driver was going to appeal for a reduced sentenceâ¦ It’s up to the judge and DA to change his sentence, not Governor Polis.”
William Bailey’s sister Anita Bailey who was killed in the crash also believes Aguilera-Mederos should serve a sentence.
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âIt has to serve something. I would be happy with 20 or 30 years in a row, but no more and no less than that, âsaid Anita Bailey.
Leslie Maddox Ross said she was in the first car hit at full speed and sustained serious injuries that she still suffers today.
âThe minute I heard it, I was pretty shocked at the time. But I know there are mechanisms in the legal process to allow him to reduce his sentence. Maddox Ross said. âHe has to serve a sentence and people have to know the facts. “
âI really wish it didn’t happen again, especially during the holidays. Maddox Ross said.
Facts of the matter
Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced to 110 consecutive years in prison on December 19 for the accident. He was driving the wood-laden 18-wheeler on Interstate 70 when it crashed into more than two dozen stationary vehicles and four tractor-trailers in Lakewood.
Prosecutors said during the trial he had hurtled eastward from the mountains at speeds of up to 85 miles an hour, passing four ramps of fleeing trucks before the crash. His truck swerved at times, forcing other drivers off the road. Aguilera-Mederos said the truck’s brakes failed and he lost control.
He was convicted by a Jefferson County jury of four counts of homicide and driving and 23 other counts, including:
- Six counts of assault in the first degree – extreme indifference
- 10 counts of attempted assault in the first degree – extreme indifference
- Two counts of ram car assault – reckless
- One count of reckless driving
- Four counts of reckless driving causing death
The Aguilera-Mederos case will return to court on Monday at the request of the public prosecutor, who asked a judge to reconsider the sentence. Prosecutors will ask a judge to consider a revised sentence of between 20 and 30 years for the truck driver. Governor Jared Polis’s office is also reviewing a request for a pardon.
Response to the sentence of Aguilera-Mederos
Earlier this week, KDVR spoke to a witness to the crash who said Aguilera-Mederos requested to use his cell phone to call a friend and walk away from the scene. Based on what she saw and heard, she said she believed Aguilera-Mederos should serve the 110 years he was sentenced by the jury, or at least half of it.
Darin Barton, a man known as a hero among KDVR viewers for his actions on the day of the crash, said he thought 110 years was too long.
“Should he be punished for it, most definitely.” Four people lost their lives, of course he does. But 110 years is way too many, âBarton said.
Barton said he sent an email to Governor Jared Polis, who is reviewing a switch request for Aguilera-Mederos.
Oslaida Mederos, the mother of Aguilera-Mederos, argued that the punishment was worthy of a person intending to kill. She said the accident was an accident and her son didn’t have the heart to hurt anyone.
The League of United Citizens of Latin America met with Governor Jared Polis on Wednesday morning to discuss clemency for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos. LULAC asked Governor Polis to grant leniency on the basis of time already served and to commute his sentence.