Brother of Colorado crash victim Bill Bailey slams governor for commuting sentence

2022-01-15 09:20:35 By : Mr. James Feng

Thanks for contacting us. We've received your submission.

The brother of one of four people killed in a fiery 2019 truck crash in Colorado is blasting Gov. Jared Polis for slashing the convicted rig operator’s 110-year prison sentence.

Duane Bailey raged that Polis is a “despicable human being” motivated by politics after the governor drastically reduced the original sentence for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos to 10 years.

“As far as I’m concerned, [Polis] undermined the integrity of the courts,” said Duane Bailey, whose brother William died in the crash, to KCNC over the weekend. “The governor has decided political and social-media pressure is more important than the victims of this crash.”

Aguilera-Mederos, 26, testified at trial that he was hauling lumber when the brakes on his semitrailer failed on a steep slope on Interstate 70 outside Denver in April 2019, sending his vehicle into 12 cars and three other trucks.

A jury in October convicted him of four counts of vehicle homicide in the deaths of William Bailey, 67; Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 24; Doyle Harrison, 61, and Stanley Politano, 69.

The trucker was slapped with the 110-year sentence Dec. 13, only to have it slashed Polis in a commutation letter signed Thursday after more 5 million people signed an online petition pleading for leniency.

Polis said Aguilera-Mederos was not “blameless” in the deadly crash but characterized his sentence as disproportionate after he received the mandatory minimums set by Colorado law. Those supporting the reduced sentence included celebrities such as Kim Kardashian.

“While his new sentence is ten years, he will now have an opportunity to come home in five years and be with his son and wife,” Kardashian tweeted Thursday of Aguilera-Mederos, including a copy of Polis’ executive order. “This case was a clear example of why mandatory minimums don’t work and need to be abolished.”

Polis said in his order that Aguilera-Mederos would become eligible for parole Dec. 30, 2026.   “This case will hopefully spur an important conversation about sentencing laws, but any subsequent changes to the law would not retroactively impact your sentence, which is why I am granting you this limited commutation,” Polis wrote to Aguilera-Mederos in the memo.

But Duane Bailey accused Polis, a Democrat, of putting himself “above the law” by not letting a scheduled Jan. 13 hearing to reconsider Aguilera-Merderos’ sentence take place.

“This was not an accident, it was a series [of] decisions on the part of the driver that caused [four] deaths,” Bailey told KCNC. “The jury heard the evidence and convicted him.”

Prosecutors had planned to ask that Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence be reduced to 20 to 30 years. He was convicted of 27 charges in all, including four counts of vehicular manslaughter, KCNC reported.

Bailey also accused Polis of announcing the slashed sentence amid evacuations during a massive Colorodo wildfire that erupted Thursday, torching nearly 1,000 houses in suburbs between Denver and Boulder.

“So he took advantage of the poor people who [lost] their homes that day, also,” Bailey said. “What a despicable human being.”

Bailey said he believed a 20- to 30-year prison term was appropriate for Aguilera-Mederos while noting that the former trucker could be freed in just five years under Polis’ commutation.

“Would your brother’s life be adequately compensated if he spent 1 ¼ years per death in prison?” Bailey continued. “We as a society put penalties in place to punish those that do wrong and give an adequate incentive for others not to commit the same crime.”