DENVER (KDVR) — Victims of the deadly Interstate 70 truck crash are speaking out after Gov. Jared Polis responded to criticism from prosecutors over his timing in reducing the trucker’s sentence in the crash.
District attorneys call Polis’ commutation of the sentence for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos “unprecedented.” The governor reduced the sentence from 110 years to 10 years, but it happened just two weeks prior to a scheduled resentencing hearing in Jefferson County.
Speeding down the foothills with hot brakes, the inexperienced trucker caused a massive and deadly pileup. Duane Bailey lost his brother. He said Polis should have allowed the judicial process to play out.
“Had he waited — and still changed it afterwards — I’m not saying I’d be crazy about it, but would have supported him much more,” Bailey said.
Victim Valerie Robertson-Young said a group of those impacted agreed that between 20-25 years would have been an acceptable sentence.
Since the commutation, FOX31 obtained a letter sent to Polis from Dan Rubinstein, the Republican DA in Mesa County, and Michael Dougherty, the Democratic DA in Boulder County. In the letter, both men expressed concern over the timing and manner of the commutation.
“One of our concerns was that this would become business as usual for [Polis],” Rubinstein said.
Their concern centered on a looming judicial reconsideration of the 110-year sentence. But Polis beat a Jefferson County judge to the punch.
“I’m confident that the court would’ve reduced that sentence,” Dougherty said.
If Polis didn’t like what the judge decided, he could have still intervened after the fact. FOX31 caught up with Polis on Wednesday. Polis defended his decision.
“I’m just a problem solver,” Polis said. “We fixed it.”
The prosecutors, who met with the governor last week, said they have been reassured that intervening before adjudication was a one-off.
“We make no apologies for intervening for unjust sentences,” Polis said.
Bailey doesn’t think much of his governor.
“I don’t have any respect for him whatsoever,” Bailey said.
Bailey said he wanted to be present for resentencing to hear what the judge had to say. It’s an experience that was robbed from him.
Aguilera-Mederos may not spend all 10 years behind bars. According to the Colorado Department of Corrections’ website, his estimated parole eligibility date is Dec. 30, 2026.