Prosecutor seeks reduced sentence for truck driver who got 110 years for fatal crash
The DA is asking the court to consider a 20-30 year sentence instead.
Prosecutors filed a motion earlier this month asking for a reduced sentence for Rogel Aguilera Mederos, the truck driver who was sentenced to 110 years in prison for a 2019 fatal crash on I-70, outside Denver, that killed four people and injured several others.
In a hearing on Monday morning, District Attorney Alexis King asked the court to reconsider Mederos' original sentence and suggested a range of 20-30 years behind bars instead. The judge scheduled a hearing on Jan. 13, 2022 and requested more information from prosecutors and the defense, asking them to file additional memos by Jan. 10.
"You know this is an exceptional case and requires an exceptional process," King said in brief remarks to the media following the hearing on Monday afternoon. "In finding its verdict, the jury recognized the extreme nature of the defendant's conduct, which warrants a prison sentence. The defendant caused the death of four people, serious bodily injury to two others and the impact of his truck caused damage to many more in our community."
Judge A. Bruce Jones, who was the judge in this case, questioned during the hearing whether he has jurisdiction to act based on the DA's motion and said that if Mederos appeals or requests a new sentence through a separate motion, he may no longer have jurisdiction over this case.
Jones also questioned how re-sentencing could impact Mederos' ability to file an appeal or his right to request a re-sentencing through what is known as Rule 35b. Following input from Mederos' attorneys, who spoke during the hearing, Jones asked that the next hearing take place before Mederos' time to appeal runs out.
The motion to reconsider the sentence comes after the case garnered national attention. A Change.org petition advocated for a commutation for Mederos, saying the crash was "not intentional." Nearly 5 million people have signed the online petition.
Mederos' attorney, James Colgan, told ABC News in a phone interview Monday that efforts to reconsider the sentence are "disingenuous."
"I find it interesting that two weeks ago they were fine with 110 years and only now that public outcry has blown in their face do they not want 110 years," Colgan said. "It's just politics."
Mederos was charged with 42 counts -- the most serious of which was first-degree assault, a class-three felony, and was found guilty by a Jefferson County jury of 27 counts.
Police said Mederos was driving at least 85 mph before the crash on a stretch of the highway with a 45 mph speed limit for commercial vehicles.
After his brakes failed, Mederos drove past a runaway truck ramp and crashed into stopped traffic, police said.
A runaway truck ramp is essentially an escape lane or exit that allows a vehicle that is experiencing brake problems to stop safely.
Prosecutors argued that after the brakes failed, Mederos intentionally passed the ramp -- one of the reasons that some crash victims and families of those who died argued Mederos should serve time in prison.
Colgan told ABC News that Mederos' defense team "never agreed with prosecutors that he intentionally avoided the ramp" during the trial.
"By the time he realized it was there, he was past it," Colgan said, adding that Mederos was "under a lot of stress" as he attempted to get his truck into gear to attempt to brake.
Mederos, who was not intoxicated at the time, testified that after his brakes failed, he crashed into vehicles that had stopped on the highway due to backed up traffic.
Prosecutors sought the minimum penalties for each of the charges -- the highest of which is 10 years, but the number of the charges and a law that says that some have to be served consecutively resulted in the lengthy sentence.
Jones, who was the judge in the case, said that he would not have chosen the lengthy sentence if he had the discretion.
The deadline for Mederos and his legal team to appeal is 49 days following sentencing, which would be Jan. 31, 2022. Mederos also has up to a year from the Dec. 13 sentencing to file a motion under Rule 35b for the judge to reconsider his sentence.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is considering an application of clemency for Mederos that asks for a commutation.
ABC News' Michelle Mendez contributed to this report.
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