A video of truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos making an emotional plea before a Colorado judge sentenced him to 110 years in prison in connection with a fatal crash has gone viral.
On December 13, District Court Judge Bruce Jones sentenced the 26-year-old to life in prison after he was found guilty in October of 27 charges, including four counts of vehicular homicide and six counts of vehicular assault, in connection with the April 2019 fatal crash on Interstate 70 in Lakewood, near Denver.
According to Aguilera-Mederos, the crash occurred as a result of his truck’s brakes failing while he was driving on the highway. The Cuban national was reportedly driving for the Houston-based Castellano 03 Trucking LLC at the time.
As the outrage over the 110-year sentence grew, Twitter user Joseph Morris shared a video of Aguilera-Mederos pleading for forgiveness and leniency while at the Colorado court on December 16. “I respect my family, I respect myself, and I respect the people who believe in me that I’m not a criminal,” Aguilera-Mederos sobbed.
After a brief moment of reflection, Aguilera-Mederos adds, “I want to apologize.” Sorry for the loss and for the injuries. “I know they’ve been through a lot, I feel it.” But please don’t be mad at me… I was striving for a brighter future for my family. In my entire life, I have never considered hurting anyone.”
The video has since been viewed over 2 million times on the internet.
Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, a Cuban immigrant, stated that he is “working for a better future for my family.” It’s a sad, tragic story all around.
Aguilera-Mederos also said to the judge, “Please don’t be angry with me for saying I wasn’t out robbing a bank or a store.”
“I wasn’t out shooting at people or schools. I wasn’t under the influence of anything, including drugs or alcohol. I was working when I lost control of my brakes. Truck drivers understand how frustrating it is to lose your brakes. There isn’t anything you can do.”
As Aguilera-Mederos lost control of his truck, he collided with several other vehicles, causing a gas tank to explode and a massive fire to erupt on the highway.
During the trial, prosecutors argued that the 26-year-old could have avoided hitting the cars by using one of several runaway ramps on the side of the interstate that are designed to help vehicles that have lost their brakes come to a safe stop.
Judge Jones stated that he was forced to sentence Aguilera-Mederos to 110 years in prison because state law requires that each count be served consecutively rather than concurrently.
“If I had the option, it would not be my sentence,” Jones said. More than 4.3 million people have signed a change.org petition urging Aguilera-Mederos to be granted clemency following his sentence.
“This accident was not intentional, nor was it the result of a criminal act on the part of the driver,” the petition to Governor Jared Polis and Jefferson County Courts states.
The ACLU of Colorado’s legal director, Mark Silverstein, called the sentence “grossly excessive.”
“It begs for sentencing laws to be changed. However, I believe that calls for change should also be directed at the rarely criticized but largely unchecked power of prosecutors “Silverstein stated to reporters.
“They have the authority to decide who is imprisoned and for how long. Prosecutors decide what charges to file and what plea bargains to offer.”
It is unclear whether Aguilera-case Mederos’s has received a formal request for clemency.