Kim Kardashian backs clemency petition for truck driver sentenced to 110 years when his brakes failed, causing a fiery pile-up that killed four people
- Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was driving a semi-truck on April 25, 2019, when the brakes failed and his 18-wheeler plowed into traffic, killing four people
- Aguilera-Mederos, a green card holder who had immigrated from Cuba, said that it was an accident and he was devastated by what happened
- On October 15, a jury found him guilty of 26 counts including vehicular homicide, reckless driving causing death and vehicular assault
- On December 13, a judge sentenced Aguilera-Mederos to the minimum of 110 years – a sentence which angered many, including members of the jury
- Only Governor Jared Polis can commute the sentence, and a petition calling for him to do so has gained more than 4.6 million signatures
- On Tuesday Kim Kardashian added her voice to the calls for Polis to grant clemency, describing Polis as a decent man who would do the right thing
Kim Kardashian has added her voice to those of 4.6 million others who are calling for clemency for a 26-year-old truck driver whose brake failure caused a fiery crash that killed four people, and who was sentenced to 110 years in prison.
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was sentenced to 110 consecutive years in prison
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was driving a semi-truck on April 25, 2019, along Interstate 70 in Lakewood, Colorado, when he slammed into two dozen vehicles – including four other transporters stuck in rush-hour traffic.
The impact caused a fireball explosion that incinerated cars and trucks, killing four people.
On October 15, a jury found him guilty, and on December 13 he was sentenced to 110 years by Judge A. Bruce Jones – the minimum allowed by Colorado’s sentencing laws.
He was found guilty on 27 criminal charges and his harsh sentence drew criticism among millions of people – including a juror who found him guilty.
On Tuesday, Kardashian – who is studying law and has been very vocal about prison reform, using her platform to help free more than a dozen federal prisoners – posted on Instagram to her 271 million followers that she had heard about the case and ‘took a deep dive in it to figure out what the situation is.’
Kim Kardashian is seen in June 2019 at the White House, following a meeting with Donald Trump to discuss reform of the criminal justice system
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was driving a semi-truck on April 25, 2019, along Interstate 70 in Lakewood, Colorado, when he slammed into two dozen vehicles – including four other transporters stuck in rush-hour traffic. Four people were killed. He is pictured at his December 13 sentencing
The impact caused a fireball explosion that incinerated cars and trucks, killing four people. The driver was convicted of 27 criminal counts and sentenced to 110 years
She continued: ‘He was not drunk or under the influence; his brakes on the tractor-trailer failed.
‘Another shocking and unfair part of this case is that the judge didn’t want to sentence him to such a lengthy sentence.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis is considering clemency for Aguilera-Mederos
‘However, because of the mandatory minimums in Colorado, his hands were tied.
‘Mandatory minimums take away judicial discretion and need to end.’
Kardashian also condemned the gleeful celebrations of the prosecutors, saying their gift of a brake shoe trophy made her ‘sick’.
She added that the governor, Jared Polis, ‘is a really good person and I know he will do the right thing.’
In October, a jury found Aguilera-Mederos guilty of 27 criminal charges, including:
- 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
He was also found not guilty of 15 counts of criminal attempts to commit assaults in the first degree.
Kardashian is seen on October 10 at an afterparty following her hosting of Saturday Night Live
On December 14, Polis’s office said that they had received a request for clemency.
Polis said the application is being reviewed.
‘We just received Rogel Aguilera-Mederos’ application and our legal team is currently reviewing it. Once we reach a decision, we will make an announcement,’ a spokesperson for Polis said.
State prosecutor Kayla Wildeman, 27, celebrated securing 26-year-old Rogel Aguilera-Mederos’ stern sentence in a since-deleted Facebook post
On December 17, the Jefferson County district attorney, Alexis King, filed a motion asking the court to set a hearing to reconsider the sentence.
A spokesperson for the DA’s office said this action ‘essentially reopens the case.’
The motion states: ‘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.’
Kardashian also condemned the state prosecutor Kayla Wildeman, 27, for boasting about the harsh conviction and showing off a brake shoe turned into a trophy, commemorating their ‘success.’
Wildemn posted on Facebook a picture of the trophy, and praised her fellow deputy DA.
‘Get yourself a trial partner as great as Trevor Moritzky.
‘He turned a brake shoe from a semi-truck into a memento.
‘What a special gift from truly a special person.’
The post has since been deleted.
‘Get yourself a trial partner as great as Trevor Moritzky,’ Wildeman wrote in a contentious caption for the photo, referring to her fellow Colorado deputy DA who gifted her the trophy. ‘He turned a brake shoe from a semi-truck into a memento’
King, the DA and Wildeman’s boss, said the post ‘was in very poor taste and does not reflect the values of my administration.’
She added: ‘We have addressed it internally.’
A spokesman for King did not specify how the issue was addressed. King added that the brake shoe was not a piece of evidence in the case.
This week, Kardashian commented: ‘Another shocking part of the case is this post by the prosecutor after his conviction.
‘Four people died in this tragic accident.
‘Rogel has a life sentence for the accident which will not only destroy his life, but it will also impact his wife and son’s life.
‘And yet, for some reason, the prosecutor thought it would be funny to post a photo of a brake shoe trophy she received from a colleague with a plaque?
‘Makes me so sick.’
Kardashian concluded: ‘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.’
Kardashian has carved out a name for herself as one of the nation’s most influential campaigners for reform of the legal system, thanks to her celebrity, but also despite it.
She is studying law, and those whose advice she seeks praise her attention to detail and commitment.
In October 2017 she heard the story of Alice Marie Johnson, sentenced to life in prison in 1997 after a conviction on eight criminal counts for a first-time, non-violent drug offense.
The story was posted on Mic’s Twitter account.
‘Life offered me no opportunity for parole because there is not parole in the prison system,’ Johnson said in the video.
Kardashian retweeted the clip, commenting: ‘This is so unfair…’
On May 30, 2018 – Johnson’s 63rd birthday – she went to the White House to meet then-President Donald Trump about prison reform and seek a pardon for Johnson. One week later, she was pardoned.
Within a year, she had worked to pardon 19 people, according to BuzzFeed.
In January this year, Trump included another man Kardashian had advocated for on his list of pardons – Chris Young, who the reality TV star had been lobbying for since 2018.
Young was 22 when, due to the ‘three strikes’ law, he received a life sentence without parole for the non-violent offenses of marijuana and cocaine possession.
Trump commuted the remainder of the now 32-year-old Young’s sentence.
Kardashian’s support for Aguilera-Mederos – a green card holder, who immigrated from Cuba and lives in Texas with his wife and son – adds to the already significant well of support.
A juror who helped convict him said his 110-jail sentence is ‘not right.’
Judge A. Bruce Jones has said his hands are tied due to mandatory minimum laws. He sentenced Aguilera-Mederos to the minimum in the range available to him on all 27 criminal counts
A Change.org petition to reduce Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence has become the website’s third most signed petitions after it reached 4.6 million signatures, according to the page
Pictured: a screenshot of the petition for Aguilera-Mederos, who was sentenced to prison for 110 consecutive for causing a fireball crash that killed four people
Some of the lumber Aguilera-Mederos was transporting was strewn across I-70 as traffic was stopped in both directions
Smoke billowed throughout the sky in the aftermath of the crash
‘I cried my eyes out,’ the juror, who remained anonymous, told FOX31.
The juror called the sentence ‘100-fold of what it should have been’ and said that while the trucker was responsible for the crash, Judge A. Bruce Jones should have given him a ‘more suitable sentence.’
Jones has said his hands are tied due to mandatory minimum laws.
‘There is just something wrong to where a judge cannot intervene in some way and say the way this is written is not right,’ the juror added.
The juror also told FOX31 he feels for the families of the victims, but feels compelled to speak in favor of reducing Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence.
‘I don’t [think] the governor should sit there and offer him clemency and let him off,’ he said.
‘But to step in and say this would be a more suitable sentence for what had happened.’
More than 4.6 million Change.org petitioners are calling for the trucker’s sentence to be lessened.
‘Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos … has nothing on his driving record, or on his criminal history,’ says a petition, addressed to Polis and Jefferson County courts.
The governor is the only person who can grant clemency at the state level.
Polis most recently commuted four sentences and issued 18 pardons in December 2020. Clemency usually results in a sentence reduction or a pardon.
The petition goes on to say that Aguilera-Mederos could have ‘done things differently to avoid the courts,’ but ultimately commended him for taking responsibility and apologizing to the victim’s families.
It has become the website’s third most signed petition, according to the Change.org page.
During his sentencing on December 13, Aguilera-Mederos burst into tears.
‘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.’
He was found guilty in October on 27 criminal charges including vehicular homicide, assault and reckless driving for a fiery crash in April 2019, and a county court judge said he had to sentence Aguilera-Mederos, pictured with his attorney, according to the state minimum
Viral TikToks reportedly show angered Colorado drivers protesting the 110-year jail sentence of a fellow driver who caused a huge crash that killed four on a Colorado interstate. It is unclear whether these are current photos.
Aguilera-Mederos claimed the brakes in his truck failed and he lost control, but prosecutors argued in court that he could have taken steps to prevent the crash, including using a runaway truck ramp miles before the wreck.
He made a ‘bunch of bad decisions’ instead, they said.
The sentencing prompted a series of minor protests from truck drivers.
TikTok videos showed truck drivers refusing to enter the state as a way to denounce the sentence they deemed harsh and unfair.
Although the videos have gained traction in recent days, the Colorado Motor Carriers Association said on Friday they were not aware of serious attempts of a boycott.
Greg Fulton, president of the association told ABC News he hasn’t seen concerning evidence of a boycott.
‘I’m not seeing really anything that’s showing up of that boycott in terms of companies missing shipments or other things like that,’ Fulton told the outlet.
Fulton also said that while he feels for the driver, calling the crash a mechanical failure, as the petition states, is incorrect.
‘I think in our eyes is inexperience, a lack of familiarity with the driver of the mountains…I don’t think the company should have put them in this situation,’ he said.
Aguilera-Mederos (pictured in a file photo) burst into tears during his sentencing, saying: ‘I am not a criminal. I am not a murderer. I am not a killer’
Among the vehicles he crashed into were four other semi-trucks
A giant fireball formed from the impact of the crash, incinerating some cars and trucks
Aguilera-Mederos was working for a Houston-based trucking company at the time of the fatal crash.
He was driving an 18-wheeler loaded with lumber.
Prosecutors said he was eastbound coming down the interstate from the mountains about 85mph.
They said he swerved at times, forcing others off the road before he crashed into two dozen vehicles causing a giant fireball, FOX 31 reports.
It left behind a scene of ‘significant, just unbelievable carnage,’ Lakewood Police Spokesman Ty Countryman said during a news conference following the crash, noting that some bodies were still in the wreckage hours later.
Video showed cars stopped in every direction as the huge fire spread, sending smoke billowing.
‘This is looking to be one of the worst accidents we’ve had here in Lakewood,’ Countryman said.
Those killed in the crash were Doyle Harrison, 61, of Hudson, Colorado; William Bailey, 67, of Arvadal; Miguel Angel Lamas Arrellano, 24, of Denver; and Staney Politano, 69, of Arvada.
Six others were taken to hospital.
Among the victims of the deadly crash were Stanley Politano, 69, of Arvada, Colorado, left, and Miguel Angel Lamas Arrelano, 24, of Denver, right,
Doyle Harrison (left) was also killed in the inferno, as was Victim William Bailey (pictured right with his wife, Gage Evans)
His defense attorney claimed he did not know that his truck brakes were smoking or that he would not be able to stop.
He also argued that Aguilera-Mederos’ actions were a series of negligent decisions, and that he did not intend to hurt anybody.
Before his sentencing, Aguilera-Mederos pleaded with the judge to be lenient, breaking down in tears as he spoke.
‘It’s hard. This was a terrible accident, I know,’ he said. ‘I take the responsibility, but it was an accident.
‘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. I put myself in harm’s way to avoid harming anyone else.’
He claimed that he tried to avoid the traffic, and noted that he did not flee in the aftermath ‘because I respect the laws.
‘I want to say sorry, sorry for the loss, sorry for the people injured,’ he concluded, noting: ‘I ask … God many times why them and not me.’
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