Colorado Governor Jared Polis reduced the prison term for a truck driver who was initially sentenced to 110 years to 10 years in connection to a fatal accident that killed four people in 2019, NBC News reports.
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, said his brakes failed while traveling on the downhill grade on Interstate 70 eastbound outside Denver, while prosecutors argued that a series of poor decisions made by the driver led to the fatal crash.
Gov. Polis called the incident a “tragic but unintentional act” in a letter confirming his decision to reduce Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence by 100 years on Thursday (December 30).
“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 said in a letter addressed to Aguilera-Mederos obtained by NBC News.
Polis acknowledged that Aguilera-Mederos’ attorney is related to an employee of the governor’s office, but specified that that individual was not involved with the decision-making process to reduce the sentence.
The governor added that the case “highlights the lack of uniformity between sentences.”
“This was a tragic event that affected many Coloradans,” Polis 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 was transporting lumber in a trailer while driving at an estimated speed of 85 MPH in an area where commercial vehicles are limited to 45 MPH, according to officials via NBC News.
A fiery chain-reaction crash on the highway involved 28 vehicles and four people died in the accident: Doyle Harrison, 61; William Bailey, 67; Stanley Politano, 69; and Miguel Lamas Arrellano, 24.
Aguilera-Mederos was previously scheduled for sentencing on January 13 prior to the governor’s decision.
Public backlash for the initial 110-year sentencing resulted in a Change.org petition calling for commutation, which has more than 5 million signatures.