Brother of Colorado accident victims criticizes governor for changing his sentence

The brother of one of the victims in the 2019 accident who killed four in Colorado and resulted in that the driver was convicted of vehicle homicide, Governor Jared Polis accused of being politically motivated when he reduced the sentence by 100 years.

Duane Bailey’s brother Bill Bailey was one of the victims of the crash in April 2019. Bailey said Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, the defendant, distorted his experience on his job application and “exaggerated job titles,” according to Denver Channel.

 Colorado Governor Jared Polis.  (Photo by Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images)

Colorado Governor Jared Polis. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images)
(Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images)

“He has testified that he is in a panic. Who would not be? But he put himself in that position. It was not an accident,” he said.

He called Governor Jared Polis a “disgusting man” for not allowing a new sentencing to take place on January 13, and accused the governor of using the tragic fires to distract the public from his decision.

“One must also realize [Aguilera-Mederos] will not spend the entire 10 years the governor put his sentence on. He could come out in as little as 5 years, “Bailey said according to CBS Denver. “Would your brother’s life be adequately compensated if he spent 1 1/4 years per death in prison?”

Aguilera-Mederos became emotional when he spoke to the court at his sentencing last month, asking families to forgive him. He said he is not a criminal and “has never thought about hurting anyone in my entire life.”

A rally for truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Helen H. Richardson / MediaNews Group / The Denver Post via Getty Images

A rally for truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson / MediaNews Group / The Denver Post via Getty Images

Even the judge in the case, Bruce Jones, appeared to disagree with the mandatory minimum sentence of 110 years. The case attracted national attention, Kim Kardashian spoke on behalf of the driver, and millions signed an online petition. The police called the initial punishment “arbitrary and unfair”. He called the incident a “tragic but unintentional act”.

“Even if you are not innocent, your punishment is disproportionate compared to many other inmates in our criminal justice system who committed intentional, premeditated or violent crimes,” Polis wrote in a letter.

Polis’ attitude is shared by many – including families of victims – but some are beginning to see a shift from remembering victims to simply supporting the driver.

Aguilera-Medros, 26, testified that he tried to hit the brake to stop his semi-trailer from pulling timber on April 25, 2019, but said they failed. Prosecutors focused on his decision not to take any runaway truck ramps while driving about 85 mph at Interstate 70 west of Denver.

The chain reaction wreck blew up gas tanks, causing flames that consumed several vehicles and melted parts of the highway. Those killed were Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 24; William Bailey, 67; Doyle Harrison, 61; and Stanley Politano, 69.

The accident occurred while Aguilera-Medros was on a section of highway where commercial vehicles are restricted to 45 mph due to a steep descent from the Rocky Mountain foot, according to investigators. The first collision caused a 28-vehicle chain reaction wreck.

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“He [Polis] felt that the sentence of 110 years was too severe. And we told him we agreed. We also told him to stay out of it, “Bailey said, according to the Denver Channel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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