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3 million sign petition for trucker sentenced 110 years in fiery crash

Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 9:59 PM MST
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(CNN) - A petition seeking a shorter sentence for a man convicted of a deadly semi-truck accident in 2019 has gained national attention.

A jury found Rogel Aguilera-Mederos guilty of 42 counts, including vehicular manslaughter, setting his sentence to a total of 110 years.

As of Friday night, about 3.5 million people have signed the petition asking for him to spend less time in prison.

The crash that occurred in April 2019 on I-70, claimed four lives and left many others injured.

“Once you have twenty-three felonies with mandatory minimums that are served consecutively, that can quickly add up,” Ian Farrell said, Denver University Law Professor.

Farrell mentioned that Colorado has mandatory minimum rules and sentence enhancers that are more extreme than other states.

“I think that this length of sentence for this particular defendant is vastly disproportionate,” Farrell said.

That sentence led to the Change.org petition garnering an abundance of signatures and attracting social media attention.

A call for truckers to boycott Colorado until Aguilera-Mederos is released or the law is change.

“I’m not seeing really anything that is, you know, showing up so much of that boycott,” Greg Fulton said, who is a part of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association.

The association spent a lot of time this week trying to clear up misinformation.

“The petition, which was out, there seems to indicate that he was not responsible for this, and, unfortunately, the facts don’t seem to support that,” Fulton said.

Instead, he says it was the driver’s fault that the breaks overheated.

He also doesn’t give credence to a video that’s quickly being reshared on social media of an alleged boycott.

“It looked like it may have been from a different time,” said Fulton.

He believes that the gesture was an apparent highway closure.

Fulton believes a 110-year sentence seems too stiff, but the driver was at fault, so he does not think a pardon or commutation are appropriate.

“I think it is important that, as an industry, we take responsibility when things like this occur,” Fulton said.

Instead, maybe eventually he says, the sentence could be reevaluated.

As for Farrell, he says some of Colorado’s laws could, maybe even should, change.

“To abolish the consecutive -- or at least alter the consecutive -- sentencing rules,” Farrell said.

But again, none of this makes what happened in 2019 any less of a tragedy for the people who died, the people affected and even that truck driver.

Fulton believes that the petition inaccurately claims Aguilera-Mederos committed no crime.

He was tried and found guilty in criminal court proceedings.

The petition blames the trucking company that employed him.

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