(CBS4) — The brother of one of the victims killed in a fiery crash on Interstate 70 is blasting Gov. Jared Polis for reducing the sentence of the truck driver convicted of causing four deaths. Polis commuted the sentence for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos to 10 years in prison, shaving 100 years off the original sentence. He will be eligible for parole in five years — on Dec. 30, 2026.

Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos (credit: Lakewood Police)

Duane Bailey, who lost his brother William “Bill” Bailey in the crash, called Polis a “despicable human being.”

“As far as I’m concerned, [Polis] undermined the integrity of the courts,” Duane Bailey told CBS4 on Saturday morning.

The clemency was announced Thursday, during the height of mass evacuations prompted by the Marshall Fire. Duane Bailey took issue with the sentence reduction — and the timing of the announcement. A reconsideration hearing had previously been set for Jan. 13.

The crash killed Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 24; William Bailey, 67; Doyle Harrison, 61; and Stanley Politano, 69.

“The governor has decided political and social media pressure is more important than the victims of this crash,” Duane Bailey stated.

More than five million people signed an online petition to reduce the driver’s 110-year sentence. The movement made headlines nationwide and caught the attention of celebrity activist Kim Kardashian West, who called on Polis to take action — and then praised his decision.

“This was not an accident, it was a series decisions on the part of the driver that caused [four] deaths,” Duane Bailey stated. “The jury heard the evidence and convicted him.”

Aguilera-Mederos was convicted of 27 counts, including vehicular homicide. A judge in Jefferson County sentenced him to 110 years in prison, citing minimum requirements under the law.

“The governor put himself above the law by not letting the court proceedings finish out. There was a hearing scheduled on January 13th to reconsider his sentence. The governor should have let that hearing take place,” Duane Bailey wrote.

“On top of that [Polis] made the announcement when he knew people would be focused on the tragic fires. So In a way he also took advantage of them to provide coverage so he could announce this without much news coverage,” he continued. “You all should be upset about that.”

“You also have to realize [Aguilera-Mederos] will not spend the entire 10 years the governor put his sentence at. He could get out in as little as 5 years,” he added. “Would your brother’s life be adequately compensated if he spent 1 1/4 years per death in prison?”

Duane Bailey also questioned the message the decision sends to other truck drivers about maintaining control of their vehicle.

“We as a society put penalties in place to punish those that do wrong and give an adequate incentive for others not to commit the same crime.”

He said he did not support a life sentence but feels 10 years is not enough.

The prosecutor was going to suggest 20-30 years. A number I would have supported,” he stated. “We did not hear the 110 year number until minutes before sentencing. Nobody thought that number was correct. We all agreed with the 20-30 years was what we could support.”

Duane Bailey indicated he was disappointed family members were not given a change to speak at the reconsideration hearing.

“[We] were going to have a say at the hearing,” he continued. “[Polis] deliberately announced it when he did because he knew it would get buried in the tragic news of the fires. So he took advantage of the poor people who [lost] their homes that day also. What despicable human being!”

RELATED: Who Is Rogel Aguilera-Mederos? Truck Driver Sentenced To 110 Years For Deadly Crash On I-70

 

 

Anica Padilla