Rogel Aguilera-Mederos

Rogel Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced Friday in connection with the 2019 deaths of four people when his semitrailer truck crashed into

traffic on Interstate 70 in Lakewood.

America’s fair justice system entices oppressed foreigners to migrate here to improve their lives. Good judges sentence convicts for life when they commit aggravated murders and violent rapes. They keep our country safe, and that’s as it should be.

Then we have the 110-year sentencing of 26-year-old Cuban immigrant Rogel Aguilera-Mederos. It exemplifies a grotesque miscarriage of justice one expects in North Korea, Iran or China — not the United States.

Aguilera-Mederos drove an 18-wheeler down the mountainous lanes of I-70 toward Denver in April 2019. His brakes failed, he was driving too fast, and he could not stop before crashing into a routine traffic jam in Lakewood.

The crash set 28 vehicles ablaze. It killed 24-year-old Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 67-year-old William Bailey, 61-year-old Doyle Harrison and 69-year-old Stanley Politano. Their survivors will each suffer an irreplaceable loss for the rest of their lives.

This does not justify the ruination of this truck driver’s life. Not even close.

The driver made decisions that included passing by a runaway truck ramp several miles ahead of the crash. His choices are infuriating. The driver’s actions deserve punishment because the victims and their loved ones deserve justice.

Yet, despite the carnage, one thing remains clear. Aguilera-Mederos had no intention of harming anyone. His convictions involve crimes of negligence, ignorance, recklessness and poor judgment. They involve no serious criminal intent or malice. The chances he would recommit such harm are negligible at most.

Denver District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones imposed the life-plus sentence on Dec. 13, saying state sentencing mandates require it. No reasonable person, including Jones, thinks a tragedy that began with faulty brakes warrants a sentence the young perpetrator would not satisfy until long after his natural death.

In addition to this insane penalty, Deputy District Attorney Kayla Wildeman — who led the prosecution — posted the photo of a worn brake shoe on Facebook as a “memento” of her win. This sick joke makes light of a tragedy no one considers amusing.

A member of The Gazette’s editorial board spoke with Colorado Attorney Gen. Phil Weiser on Tuesday to review options for curing this unjust sentence. Weiser said Jefferson County District Attorney Alexis King might request a sentencing reconsideration process. He said Gov. Jared Polis has authority to handle this however he chooses, commuting prison time to something more fit for the convict’s actions and intentions.

“I think this is going to change,” Weiser said of the sentence.

People want more law and order as crime soars nationwide. They do not want bad brake pads and a series of reckless driving decisions ruining the life of a young man with no criminal history. They do not want to violate the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. That is why a growing petition movement has more than 5 million people asking Polis to commute the sentence to something more suitable.

King and Polis must figure this out soon. The victims and their survivors deserve justice. However, no one will be served by ruining this convict’s life with a sentence he cannot possibly outlive. Give him a reasonable punishment and never let him drive again. Don’t ruin this man’s life for deaths he did not intend and mistakes that will haunt him for the rest of his life.

The Gazette Editorial Board

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