In April of 2019, Rogel Aguilera-Mederos’ brakes failed on his semi-truck as he drove down a hill on Interstate 70. The brake failure caused him to come slamming into traffic, killing four people and injuring several others. The horrific accident destroyed 28 other vehicles as well.
It was proven in a court of law that Aguilera-Mederos had no control over his brakes and though he certainly bears some responsibility, thanks to ridiculously harsh mandatory minimum sentencing, he will be thrown in a cage for the rest of his life.
In October, Aguilera-Mederos was found guilty and convicted on 27 counts — 4 counts of vehicular homicide, 6 counts of first-degree assault, 10 counts of attempt to commit assault in the first degree- extreme indifference, two counts of vehicular assault- reckless, one count of reckless driving, four counts of careless driving causing death.
This month, a judge in Jefferson County sentenced him to 110 years in prison. Two days later, more than 4.5 million people had signed an online petition asking Gov. Jared Polis to grant clemency, or commutation as time served.
Also, after he was sentenced, truckers across the country took to social media to announce a boycott. They announced that they will no longer be driving into Colorado unless Aguilera-Mederos is granted clemency.
One Tiktoker said, “this truck is no longer going to Colorado. We want justice for Rogel Aguilera. Truckers he needs our help.”
@ntgi2020#freerogelaguilera #rogelaguilera #fyp#chicagotrucking #fy #viral #truckertiktok #trucker #trucking #justiceforrogelaguilera #paratii♬ My Heart Will Go On (sound) – TikTok Effects ID
Another trucker said, “no longer going to Colorado. I’ve told all my drivers not to take any loads or fuel up there. They’ll be paid extra to go around if they have to. Justice for Rogel Aguilera!”
@zyereriThis cannot be a standard. He didn’t deserve 110. #truckersoftiktok #truckersmatter #justiceforrogelaguilera #nocoloradocheck #nocolorado #truckers♬ original sound – Zyereri
“No one but the trucking company he is/was employed by should be held accountable for this accident. No, we are not trying to make it seem any less of a tragic accident that it is because yes, lives were lost. We are trying to hold the person who needs to be held responsible, responsible,” writes Heather Gilbee, the author of the change.org petition.
Indeed, as Aguilera-Mederos did not own the truck he was driving, it was the company’s fault for not maintaining a working braking system. But thanks to the grinding cogs of the state, the judge says his hands are tied and he had no choice but to sentence him to 110 years.
“If I had the discretion, it would not be my sentence,” said the judge.
Unfortunately, however, laws are in place which force the hand of the judge and countless others judges in all 50 states and in Washington DC.
Mandatory minimums dehumanize people by — in the words of Judge Stephanos Bibas — acting as “sledgehammers rather than scalpels,” falling with equal force on people whose circumstances are dramatically different from one another and preventing judges from calibrating punishment to suit the person or the crime.
As TFTP has reported, innocent people — who have harmed no one — are often swept up in the system and receive cruel and lengthy sentences thanks to mandatory minimums.
In 2019, we reported on Thomas J. Franzen, 37, who had never been arrested or committed a crime before he was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer that has spread to both his lungs and abdominal cavity.
However, because government claims the authority to throw people in jail over a plant using mandatory minimum sentencing, Franzen’s self-medication process of edible THC for his cancer landed him in prison for years.
In the meantime, however, sickos who sexually abuse children avoid jail all together. This is why we protest.
UPDATE: After this article was published, it appears that the petition and boycott may have worked and a Colorado district attorney has moved to examine the Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence.
First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King filed a motionfor a hearing to reconsider the sentence under the state’s mandatory minimum law.
“The law also permits the Court to reconsider its sentence in an exceptional case involving unusual and extenuating circumstances,” the motion reads.