Judge Who Sentenced Killer Trucker To 110 Years Hits Out At Governor Who Reduced Sentence Without Telling Him
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A judge who sentenced a truck driver to 110 years in prison has criticised a governor for reducing the sentence without telling him.
Jefferson County District Court Judge Bruce Jones handed down the lifelong sentence to Rogel Aguilera-Mederos after he lost his brakes and drove his truck into stationary traffic in Colorado, killing four people.
Aguilera-Mederos was convicted of more than two dozen crimes following the 2019 incident, and as a result Jones was compelled by the state’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws to send Aguilera-Mederos to prison for 110 years.
The judge was expected to reduce the sentence at an upcoming resentencing hearing, however Colorado Governor Jared Polis beat him to it by commuting the sentence after more than five million people signed a petition asking him to do so.
In an order cited by The Denver Post, Jones cancelled the resentencing hearing and wrote that while the court had ‘not received a formal notification’, he learned of the commutation through news reports.
The sentence was reduced to just 10 years, and though Jones wrote that the court ‘respects the authority of the Governor to do so’, he added, ‘Based on the timing of the decision, however, it appears this respect is not mutual.’
First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King described Polis’s commutation as premature after she requested a resentencing hearing for Aguilera-Mederos, saying at the time she would seek a 20- to 30-year sentence for the trucker.
Duane Bailey, who lost his brother William Bailey in the crash, said family members of the victims had met with Polis before the commutation and asked him not to intervene. Bailey expressed belief that the 110-year sentence was too long, but supported a 20- to 30-year prison sentence.
He commented, ‘We thought the governor should stay out if it. We thought the governor was too impatient. He only had to wait two weeks; he should have let the process play out.’
Polis announced the commutation in a letter in which he claimed the 110-year sentence was not an appropriate punishment for Aguilera-Mederos’s actions.
He wrote, ‘There is an urgency to remedy this unjust sentence and restore confidence in the uniformity and fairness of our criminal justice system, and consequently I have chosen to commute your sentence now.’
Bailey believes Polis’s commutation came as a result of him having given in to the pressure of backlash, saying he ‘short-circuited the process of the judicial system that he said he was trying to restore faith in’.
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Topics: News, car crash, Colorado, US