JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) — The judge who presided over the case against Rogel Aguilera-Mederos said Gov. Jared Polis showed a lack of respect for his authority by reducing his prison sentence when he did. Judge Bruce Jones had a hearing scheduled for next week to reconsider the truck driver’s 110-year sentence but Polis acted first and reduced the sentence to 10 years. He will be eligible for parole in five years — on Dec. 30, 2026.
Four people were killed on Interstate 70 in Lakewood in 2019 when the semi truck Aguilera-Mederos was driving plowed into bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Aguilera-Mederos was convicted of 27 counts, including vehicular homicide. Judge Jones sentenced him to 110 years in prison, citing minimum requirements under the law.
Polis announced the clemency decision on Thursday, two weeks ahead of the reconsideration hearing the judge had previously set for Jan. 13.
“The Court respects the authority of the Governor to do so,” Jones wrote. “Based on the timing of the decision, however, it appears this respect is not mutual.”
The judge had said the family members of the crash victims would be allowed to speak during the reconsideration hearing, if they chose to.
Duane Bailey, who lost his brother William “Bill” Bailey, in the crash said he felt Polis “put himself above the law by not letting the court proceedings finish out.”
“[We] were going to have a say at the hearing,” Duane Bailey told CBS4. “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.
In the written order, obtained by CBS4 on Wednesday, Judge Jones stated:
“The Court again extends its condolences to the families of those who died, to those who were injured, and to all who were traumatized because of the events on I-70 on April 25, 2019.