DENVER — For the second time this week, supporters for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos gathered on the steps of the Colorado state Capitol building, calling for either clemency or commutation for the 26-year-old's 110-year sentence.
On Wednesday, December 22, Aguilera-Mederos' mother, Oslaida Mederos, spoke to scores of supporters from a lectern on the steps of the Capitol building. She sobbed, begging to see her son again.
“Please help me," she said in Spanish. "I want to see my son.”
"I will die if I don't see my son soon," Oslaida Mederos added.
Second rally for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos
State lawmakers spoke about the Aguilera-Mederos case, emphasizing what they saw as a need for criminal justice and sentencing reform, adding to the calls for clemency or commutation.
"This is such a tragedy," State Senator Julie Gonzales (D-Denver) said. "And it really underscores the need for reform to our sentencing structures."
"¿Que queremos?" a man at the rally asked the crowd. "¡Justicia!" the crowd responded.
"What do we want? Justice!"
Aguilera-Mederos' case has received national attention. More than 4.7 million people have signed an online petition asking Governor Jared Polis to intervene in the case, and celebrities like Kim Kardashian have commented on the sentencing.
Kardashian added: "I pray that Governor Polis, who has been a leader on supporting reforms that increase human dignity in the legal system, will commute his sentence."
Governor Polis said his office is reviewing a clemency application.
Update on Dec. 21
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — The First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King has filed a motion to reconsider the sentencing for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos. A judge gave him 110 years in prison for causing a large crash that killed four people and hurt six others on Interstate 70 west of Denver in April of 2019.
The motion filed December 17reads in part, "As Colorado law required the imposition of the sentence in this case, the law also permits the Court to reconsider its sentence in an exceptional case involving unusual and extenuating circumstances."
Governor Jared Polis has also faced a lot of questions and calls for his office to grant Aguilera-Mederos clemency. During a news conference about COVID-19 in Colorado on December 21, Polis answered a question about Aguilera-Mederos' case. He said his office received the application for clemency on Monday afternoon and his legal team is reviewing it.
Read the original story below from Dec. 20
DENVER — From the steps of the Colorado Capitol building to an online petition that millions have signed, many are are calling on Colorado Governor Jared Polis to offer clemency or commutation for time served for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos.
The 26-year-old was sentenced on December 13 to 110 years in prison after he was convicted for causing a large crash that killed four people and hurt six others on Interstate 70 west of Denver in April of 2019. The Denver Post reported the district court judge wasn’t allowed to give a lesser sentence to Aguilera-Mederos because of mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
Immediately following the news of his sentencing, an online petition started asking Polis to grant him clemency or offer commutation for time served. As of December 20, it has more than 4.4 million signatures.
A couple of different groups also called on those in the Denver area to join them in rallies for Aguilera-Mederos. One on Monday, December 20 was called "‘Crime’" Does NOT Fit the Time March: Support Rogel Aguilera Mederos" and asked supporters to meet at the state capitol building. The attendance was relatively small on Monday but organizers told Rocky Mountain PBS, they would hold another rally Wednesday to garner more support.
Those who did attend hope any awareness they can raise could help.
“We’re trying push this way beyond Colorado, we’re trying to raise national awareness and support Rogel," said Jessica Luna, a student at University of Colorado, Denver. “I think it’s time to be…time to have a call to action and become a little bit more progressive with our laws, something as simplistic as being able to differentiate between malice and negligence.”
Rally for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos
Small group rallied for clemency or commutation for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos.
Currently, the laws consider first-degree assault and attempted first-degree assault “crimes of violence”. This means prison sentences must run consecutively and not concurrently when they are related to the same incident. A Jefferson County jury convicted Aguilera-Mederos of four counts of vehicular homicide, six counts of first-degree assault, 10 counts of attempted first-degree assault, four counts of careless driving causing death, two counts of vehicular assault and one count of reckless driving.
“I will state that if I had the discretion, it would not be my sentence,” the judge said.
Aguilera-Mederos testified that the brakes on his semitrailer failed before he crashed into stopped vehicles on I-70. Prosecutors argued he could have used one of several runway ramps as his truck came down from the mountains. Investigators said he was traveling at least 85 miles per hour.
Those killed were Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 24; William Bailey, 67; Doyle Harrison, 61; and Stanley Politano, 69.
Aguilera-Mederos spoke through tears at his sentencing asking the families of victims for forgiveness.
“I am not a criminal,” he said. “I am not a murderer. I am not a killer. When I look at my charges, we are talking about a murderer, which is not me. I have never thought about hurting anybody in my entire life."
Another group, Colorado Sin Fronteras, has planned a rally for Monday, December 27. They plan to meet at the Jefferson County courthouse in Golden and then rally to the state capitol, an event that is expected to last all day.
The sentencing for Aguilera-Mederos has reached people from across the country and many are calling for legal changes. The ACLU of Colorado wrote in a post on social media, “ACLU is calling on all the stakeholders involved in this unjustifiable outcome to use the existing tools that are available for precisely this moment–including resentencing, commutation, and restorative justice alternatives–to correct this shameful injustice.”
State Senator Julie Gonzales (D-Denver) took to instagram to explain that Aguilera-Mederos’ sentencing has come up in conversations with lawmakers and Polis in just the last couple of days. She said there has been a task force and efforts in place to reform minimum sentences, something that is a focus of the fight for Aguilera-Mederos.
“It’s really easy to say, ‘He should’ve done this, he should’ve done that. Oh, he had this license.’ But in the reality of this situation, none of us really know what we’re going to do when our parasympathetic nervous system goes off, right?” said Luna. “I hope that…the general public can feel compassion and mercy and empathy."