Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has reduced a 110-year sentence to 10 years for a truck driver who killed four people in 2019 after he said his brakes gave out.
Polis announced Rogel Aguilera-Mederos’ commutation on Thursday, a week after a Colorado district attorney asked the court to reconsider his sentence, and explained his reasoning in a clemency letter.
“You were sentenced to 110 years in prison, effectively more than a life sentence, for a tragic but unintentional act. 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 wrote in his letter to Aguilera-Mederos.
The “arbitrary and unjust sentence” was a result of Colorado’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws, the governor wrote.
FROM OUR EDITOR, TO YOUR INBOX: Editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll takes you behind the scenes of the newsroom in this weekly newsletter
Aguilera-Mederos, 26, said his truck’s brakes failed in April 2019 while driving on Interstate 70 west of Denver, leading him to crash into cars that were stopped because of another collision. Four people died in the crash: Doyle Harrison, 61; William Bailey, 67; Stanley Politano, 69; and Miguel Lamas Arrellano, 24.
A jury found Aguilera-Mederos guilty on four counts of vehicular homicide and 23 other charges in October. He was sentenced in December to 110 years in prison.
Since then, more than five million people have signed a petition to cut his jail sentence. Judge A. Bruce Jones, who said the state’s sentencing laws forced him to give the minimum of 110 years, and one member of a victim’s family said they disagreed with the length of the punishment following the hearing.
In his letter to Aguilera-Mederos, Polis also wrote, “Though your actions have caused immense pain, I am 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.”
Aguilera-Mederos will be eligible for parole on Dec. 30, 2026.
Contributing: Christine Fernando, USA TODAY