Prosecutors slam Colorado trucker’s jail sentence reduction

DENVER | The reduction of a 110-year prison sentence to 10 years by the governor of Colorado for a trucker convicted of killing four people in a violent interstate accident is hurting prosecutors’ efforts to negotiate sentences in other cases, according to two district attorneys.

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis’ Dec. 30 switch for the trucker was ‘unprecedented, premature and unwarranted’ as Rogel Aguilera-Mederos’ case was still active, with a judge to consider a prosecutor’s request to reduce the sentence , Boulder County said. District Attorney Michael Dougherty and Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein.

Dougherty is a Democrat and Rubinstein is a Republican and both told Polis in a January 20 letter that his decision “had a substantial ripple effect” on other cases, The Denver Post reported Wednesday. The post obtained the letter through an open records request.

“Sentences should be influenced by facts and circumstances, not petitions, online polls or tweets,” they said, referring to a nationwide campaign to reduce Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence before Polis decision.

Dougherty and Rubinstein said the ruling affected prosecutors’ efforts to secure an eight-year sentence in a recent Boulder County sexual assault case, saying the defendant’s attorney objected that eight years were excessive given Aguilera-Mederos’ 10-year sentence.

Dougherty told the Post that he and Rubinstein met with Polis after sending the letter and that prosecutors “are optimistic that our concerns were understood and that what happened in this case was an exception.”

Polis spokesman Conor Cahill said the governor reduced the trucker’s sentence because “there is clearly an urgent need to address this sentence and restore confidence in the consistency and fairness of our justice system. criminal”.

Polis’ decision came days after a judge scheduled a hearing in January to reconsider the sentence at the request of local district attorney Alexis King, who had planned to ask that it be reduced to 20 to 30 years. .

About 5 million people have signed an online petition asking for clemency for Aguilera-Mederos, who was convicted of vehicular homicide and other charges in the 2019 explosive pile-up.

Aguilera-Mederos testified that he was hauling lumber when his tractor-trailer’s brakes failed as he descended a steep hill off Interstate 70 in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

His truck slammed into vehicles that had slowed down from other wreckage, triggering a chain reaction crash and a fireball that consumed vehicles and melted parts of the highway.

Judge Bruce Jones imposed the 110-year sentence on December 13 after finding it was the mandatory minimum sentence under state law, noting that it would not have been his choice.

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