For those of you who don’t know, a legal Cuban immigrant was sentenced on December 15th, 2021, to 110 years for the accidental, but ultimately reckless, vehicular homicides of Doyle Harrison, 61, William Bailey, 67, and Stan Politano, 69, and Miguel Angel Lamas Arrellano, 24. Their deaths occurred during a traffic incident on April 25th of 2019 that happened when Rogel Aguilera-Mederos brakes failed while driving a Semi-Truck. All 110 years were to be served consecutively, which was what had a majority of people reading their news articles the next day up in arms.
Even the judge who issued the sentencing, Colorado District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones, stated that he was uncomfortable with how long he felt he was required to hand down to the now 26-year-old Rogel Aguilera-Mederos. Several of the family members of the injured as well as the family of the four individuals who died felt the punishment was extreme and severe.
On the Liberty Leader I wrote an article that linked to several other stories of men and women who intentionally murdered people and got lesser sentences. With parole and good behavior, you can murder someone in cold blood and be out in as little as five years depending on the state, the official charges and convictions, and the judge’s sentencing.
Now, to be clear, while many people felt that Rogel should serve some time, there wasn’t a lot of agreement on how much time should be served. Some people called for a clemency or a complete commuting of the entire sentence. Others felt that the Colorado guideline of 6 years max per death due to reckless vehicular homicide was much more appropriate. That of course would have been a max of 24 years which seems a lot more reasonable than 110 years.
On December 30th, Fox News reported that Colorado Governor Jared Polis commuted the sentence from 110 years to 10 years with the possibility of parole on December 30th, 2026.
“You were sentenced to 110 years in prison, effectively more than a life sentence, for a tragic but unintentional act,” The Colorado Governor wrote in his letter to Aguilera-Mederos. “While you are not blameless, your sentence is disproportionate compared with many other inmates in our criminal justice system who committed intentional, premeditated, or violent crimes.”
“The length of your 110-year sentence is simply not commensurate with your actions, nor with penalties handed down to others for similar crimes,” he continued. “There is an urgency to remedy this unjust sentence and restore confidence in the uniformity and fairness of our criminal justice system, and consequently I have chosen to commute your sentence now.”
"*" indicates required fields
Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos was granted clemency after his 110 year sentence… will be eligible for parole in 2026 instead of 2091 pic.twitter.com/GS5ItOAMa7
— Glock Topickz (@Glock_Topickz) December 30, 2021
However, at least one family member of the deceased is speaking out and calling the governor a “despicable human-being” for commuting the sentence. The brother of William “Billy” Bailey, Duane Bailey, wasn’t at all pleased when he heard about the governor’s actions.
“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,” Bailey said, according to CBS Denver. “Would your brother’s life be adequately compensated if he spent 1 1/4 years per death in prison?”
“He [Polis] felt that the 110-year sentence was too severe. And we told him that we agreed with that. We also told him, he should stay out of it,” Bailey said, according to the Denver Channel.
Now, many are starting to wonder if the Governor’s motivations had less to do with justice and more to do with optics. After all, Alexis King, First Judicial District Attorney, already had a plan to help make sure that a fair sentence was reissued while keeping the victims and their families in mind. That plan was scheduled for January 13th, 2022 where the judge would get to hear testimony from both the families and the injured parties as well as from Aguilera-Mederos in an effort to come to a better, more acceptable sentencing for the convictions.
King made it very clear she wasn’t happy with the governor either.
“From the beginning, we have followed the process set forth in the law to reach a just resolution of this case. We are disappointed in the Governor’s decision to act prematurely. I joined the surviving victims and families of those who lost their loved ones in their wish to have the trial judge determine an appropriate sentence in this case, as he heard the facts and evidence of the defendant’s destructive conduct that led to death, injury, and devastating destruction.”
She said prosecutors were meeting with the victims and their loved ones “to support them in navigating this unprecedented action and to ensure they are treated with fairness, dignity, and respect during this difficult time.”