Prosecutors in Colorado have started a process that could reduce the penalty for a truck driver who was sentenced this month to 110 years in prison for his role in a 2019 crash that killed four people.
The lengthy sentence, which was handed down on Dec. 13, drew scrutiny from the judge and from more than four million people who signed an online petition calling for it to be reduced.
On Tuesday, just over a week after the truck driver, Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, was sentenced, Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado said that his office was reviewing the driver’s application for clemency. Also on Tuesday, the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Colorado said it had filed a motion to reconsider the penalty.
“As Colorado law required the imposition of the sentence in this case, the law also permits the Court to reconsider its sentence in an exceptional case involving unusual and extenuating circumstances,” the motion said.
Mr. Aguilera-Mederos was driving a truck on Interstate 70 in Lakewood, Colo., just west of Denver, on April 25, 2019, when it crashed into several cars, killing four people.
He said malfunctioning brakes were the main cause of the crash. Prosecutors argued that he was responsible for the deaths because of the decisions he made while driving, including not steering the truck onto a runaway truck ramp along the highway.
In October, a jury found Mr. Aguilera-Mederos, now 26, guilty of 27 counts, including vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. On Dec. 13, a district court judge, A. Bruce Jones, sentenced him to 110 years in prison, explaining that Colorado law required that sentences for each count be served consecutively instead of concurrently.
“If I had the discretion, it would not be my sentence,” Judge Jones said, according to Reuters.
The judge was not alone in his criticism.
The Denver Post urged Mr. Polis to commute the sentence in a Dec. 15 editorial and said state legislators should change the law that required the lengthy sentence. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 4.7 million people had signed a petition on Change.org calling what happened a “tragic accident” and urging Mr. Polis to either grant Mr. Aguilera-Mederos clemency or commutation.
On Tuesday, Kim Kardashian West, who has become an advocate for changes to the criminal justice system, said that the case was “shocking and unfair” in a series of posts on Twitter, where she has 70.8 million followers. “Mandatory minimums take away judicial discretion and need to end,” she wrote.
Alexis King, the district attorney whose office prosecuted Mr. Aguilera-Mederos, filed the request to reconsider the sentence on Friday. Her office announced the move on Tuesday.
Prosecutors are collecting input from victims in the case as part of the process.
Gage Evans, whose husband, William Bailey, died in the crash, told The New York Times on Sunday that she did not believe Mr. Aguilera-Mederos’s sentence should be commuted.
“This person should spend some time in prison and think about his actions,” said Ms. Evans, 65. “I don’t think he should be let off with a slap on the wrist.”
In Colorado, the sentence for a person convicted of a violent crime can’t be changed until 119 days after the defendant enters prison. James Colgan, a lawyer for Mr. Aguilera-Mederos, said the judge had ordered all the parties in the case to be in court on Monday to discuss how to change the sentence under these conditions.
Mr. Colgan said on Wednesday that the last week had been a “whirlwind” for his client. “Just the moment you get adjusted to something, something new pops up,” he said.
In addition to the district attorney’s call for a review of the sentence, Mr. Colgan petitioned the governor’s office for clemency, and another lawyer for Mr. Aguilera-Mederos is considering filing an appeal. “We’re just keeping everything on the table until we get a positive result,” Mr. Colgan said.
Mr. Polis, the governor, said at a news conference on Tuesday that his office received the clemency application on Monday night. “When we have a decision, we will announce it,” Mr. Polis said in Spanish, according to a local news channel, KDVR-TV.