Several million people have signed a petition demanding a review of the judgment of a trucker who was involved in an accident and was sentenced to 110 years in prison. In April 2019, the brakes of the truck he was driving failed and the car flew into dozens of vehicles at full speed. As a result of the accident, four people were killed, and now, according to an unprecedented harsh and unreasonable court decision, the driver will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, a 26-year-old Cuban immigrant, will spend the rest of his life in a prison cell for an accident that was not his fault. In April 2019, the brakes of a truck driven by Rogel failed, as a result of which he was involved in an accident that claimed the lives of four people. It seems obvious that the responsibility for the incident lies with the transport company where he worked, but the United States court decided otherwise. He was charged with 27 counts, and in December 2021, a judge in Jefferson County, Colorado, sentenced him to 110 years in prison.
On that day, April 25, 2019, Aguilera-Mederos, who was 23 at the time, was driving a truck loaded with lumber along an interstate highway near Denver, Colorado. After a while, the driver realized that his car’s brakes had failed, and he had no choice but to grab the steering wheel tighter and hope for a miracle. But the miracle did not happen, and his loaded car rammed the cars of other road users at full speed. As a result of the accident, four people were killed, six were hospitalized, and the total number of cars involved in an accident was about 28. Rescue services said that the fire that broke out after the disaster was “one of the worst accidents that have occurred in this area.” It took several hours to get the bodies of the victims out of the rubble.
Aguilera-Mederos was arrested at the scene and charged with a number of counts, including a fatal accident.
In October 2021,
he was found guilty of 27 criminal charges including counts of vehicular homicide, first-degree assault, attempt to commit assault in the first degree–extreme indifference, vehicular assault-reckless, reckless driving, and four counts of careless driving causing death.
On December 13, a Colorado District Court judge sentenced the 26-year-old driver to 110 years in prison. During the hearing, the judge said that he understands the absurdity of the situation and does not want to sentence the young man to life imprisonment, but “his hands are tied because of the large number of charges and the rules established by state law.” The rules that the ruler of justice was talking about are the legislative acts on minimum mandatory sentences that the US Congress adopted in the 1980s, because of which Rogel received such a long prison term. During the sentencing, the convict asked for leniency, said he wished he could swap places with the people killed.
The verdict caused public outrage, an online petition calling for the pardon of the driver has already gained more than four million signatures on the Internet, truckers in Colorado announced a boycott in support of their colleague. People compare Rogel’s sentence with the terms imposed on murderers and rapists, who will often spend several times less years behind bars than a person who has become a victim of a technical malfunction.
Foundation to Battle Injustice joins the campaign in support of Aguilera-Mederos and calls on the governor of Colorado to review his case and pay attention to sentencing practices, which often violate not only common sense, but also civil rights and freedoms of people.