The man convicted of a massive highway explosion in 2019 is receiving an outpouring of support after he was sentenced to 110 years behind bars. Many have called the sentence harsh and beyond reasonable for the crime. Further, in an effort to change the outcome, more than 3 million people have signed a petition in an attempt to have the sentence reduced.
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos was driving down a Lakewood, Colorado highway in April 2019. He was barreling down the stretch of I-70 at 85 mph. He says this is because the brakes on his 18-wheel vehicle failed. Four people were killed in the accident and another six suffered major injuries. Prosecutors in the case said the man made reckless decisions and could have also used a runaway truck ramp.
The victims were identified as Doyle Harrison, 61; William Bailey, 67; Stanley Politano, 69; and Miguel Lamas Arrellano, 24.
Additionally, during the trial, Aguilera-Mederos, 26, pleaded with a judge about the accident. However, because of the state’s mandatory minimum laws, the 27 counts he was convicted of had to be served consecutively.
A petition states that:
“He’s passed all of the drug and alcohol tests that were given, including a chemical test. This accident was not intentional, nor was it a criminal act on the driver’s part,” the petition states. “No one but the trucking company … should be held accountable for this accident,” the petition adds. “This tragic accident wasn’t done with intent, it wasn’t a criminal act, it was an accident.”
Judge Ruling in Crash Says ‘Hands Were Tied’
Judge A. Bruce Jones also says his hands were tied.
“If I had the discretion, if I thought I had the discretion, I would not run those sentences consecutively,” he said, per NBC News.
Further, Aguilera-Mederos’ attorney expressed frustration over the way the law was written.
“The law is just so frustrating because it ends up in miscarriages of justice like this. The law is poorly written,” James Colgan said.
However, during the sentencing hearing, Aguilera-Mederos addressed the accident.
“It’s hard. This was a terrible accident, I know,” he said. “I take the responsibility, but it was an accident.”
He additionally went on to say:
“I have never thought about hurting anyone in my entire life and Jesus Christ, he knows that, he knows my heart,’ he continued. ‘I am not a criminal, I am not a murderer. The accident – it wasn’t intentional, it wasn’t intentional Your Honor. I did all that I can as a man.”
He further added: “I put myself in harms way to avoid harming anyone else.’I want to say sorry, sorry for the loss, sorry for the people injured. I ask … God many times why them and not me.”
The 27 counts the 26-year-old was convicted of include:
- Four counts of vehicular homicide
- Two counts of vehicular assault
- Six counts of assault in the first-degree with extreme indifference
- 10 counts of criminal attempt to commit assault in the first degree
- One count of reckless driving
- Four counts of careless driving causing death