In proving that Aguilera-Mederos committed a criminal act, prosecutors on the case zeroed in on a runaway truck ramp that video shows Aguilera-Mederos driving passed before the accident. They also highlighted the speed at which Aguilera-Mederos was driving just before the crash. That was at least 85 miles an hour, according to police and disputed by Aguilera-Mederos’ defense. “As the jury found, Mr. Aguilera-Mederos knowingly made multiple active choices that resulted in the death of four people, serious injuries to others, and mass destruction,” First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King said in a statement released Thursday. She, however, admitted that a lighter sentence was still appropriate, and she is seeking a sentencing range of 20 to 30 years.
“This sentencing range reflects an appropriate outcome for that conduct, which was not an accident,” King said. “Given that the victims in this case have more than one view of an appropriate outcome, and this trial court heard the evidence presented, we believe that this hearing is the best path to securing justice for everyone involved.”
Jones laid out ground rules on Monday for the hearing next month. He said any outbursts will result in immediate removal from the courtroom. He said he doesn’t want to put anyone through having to speak about the case again, but he’ll hear out victims if they want to speak. The judge also said he would prefer statements, including any on behalf of Aguilera-Mederos, to be submitted in writing. “About the hearing itself, I’m concerned about turning this thing into a circus and it will not be a circus as far as I’m concerned,” Jones said.
At no point during the hearing or in prosecutors’ news releases about the case is the actual trucking company that allegedly put Aguilera-Mederos behind the wheel of a vehicle said to have faulty brakes even mentioned. Castellano 03 Trucking, the Houston company tied to the fatal crash, is linked to a business that has been repeatedly accused of providing vehicles with faulty brakes and bad brake connections, 9News reported and Newsweek confirmed. Castellano 03 Trucking was dissolved months after the crash, and Volt Trucking LLC was registered as a new business with the Texas Secretary of State’s Office the day after the crash. Both the former and the latter were registered to the same address: 12010 Fork Creek Drive, 9News reported.
Volt Trucking has at least 23 violations on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website, including those for “inoperative/defective brakes” and “brake connections with leaks or constrictions.” Kyle Bachus, an attorney for crash survivor Leslie Ross, told 9NEWS the findings are “disgusting.”
“It is also extremely difficult for victims to understand how the State of Texas ever allowed these same people to reopen and operate under another trucking company under a different name after they destroyed so many families,” Bachus said.
Perhaps the trucking company would have made a more worthy target for prosecutors looking to hold someone accountable for the deadly crash.
Instead, Aguilera-Mederos was convicted of 27 counts, including vehicular homicide and first-degree assault. He ended up with such a lengthy sentence due to Colorado laws requiring minimum sentences and one in particular that requires sentences to be served consecutively. Lawmakers stated in the statute: “For the purposes of this article, when any inmate has been committed under several convictions with separate sentences, the department shall construe all sentences as one continuous sentence.”
Duane Bailey, the brother of one of the crash victims, called 110 years “excessive” on Good Morning America, but he said the jury “came to the correct decision to convict.”
The case has inspired an outpouring of support for Aguilera-Mederos in the form of calls for clemency, notably backed by celebrity business woman Kim Kardashian-West. “For those who don’t know about this case, Rogel Aguilera-Mederos is a 26 year old that was sentenced 110 years in prison for driving a semi-tractor-trailer and crashed into traffic killing four people,” she tweeted in a thread on Tuesday night. “He was not drunk or under the influence, his brakes on the semi tractor-trailer failed.”
A petition for clemency or commutation started by Colorado resident Heather Gilbee attracted more than 4.95 million signatures as of Monday morning. The goal is to get 6 million signatures of support for Aguilera-Mederos. “This accident was not intentional, nor was it a criminal act on the drivers part,” Gilbee wrote. “No one but the trucking company he is/was employed by should be held accountable for this accident.”
“No, we are not trying to make it seem any less of a tragic accident that it is because yes, lives were lost. We are trying to hold the person who needs to be held responsible, responsible. The trucking company has had several inspections since 2017, with several mechanical violations. There are many things Rogel could have done to avoid the courts, but he took responsibility showed up and severely apologized to the victims families. Some of the families even offered Forgiveness. Rogel is not a criminal, the company he was working for knew the federal laws that go into truck driving but they failed to follow those laws. Rogel has said several times that he wishes he had the courage to crash and take his own life that day, this tragic accident wasn’t done with Intent, it wasnt a criminal act, it was an accident.”
Jones admitted in court that if the law allowed him, he would have come to a different sentence. “I will state that if I had the discretion, it would not be my sentence,” he said. “I would say that perhaps the legislature, in imposing a requirement of consecutive sentences, had in mind that there might be cases where a judge should give it further consideration after hearing from the Department of Corrections, and this may very well be one of those cases.”