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In the face of obvious injustice, Gov. Jared Polis has rescued our justice system from itself. The governor on Thursday reduced the 110-year sentence for a truck driver who killed four people in a fiery crash on Interstate 70 to 10 years.

Contrasting two sentences delivered in December, clearly illustrates how arbitrary and capricious Colorado’s sentencing laws are.

In 2019, 17-year-old Nathan Poindexter Jr. was at the Aurora mall with his stepfather and younger brother when he encountered a 20-year-old man that he had an ongoing dispute with. A fight ensued, but the older man, Senoj Jones, pulled out a gun and shot the unarmed Poindexter in front of his family members.

Senoj Jones pleaded guilty in May to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison after he completes a seven-year sentence in the youth offender system.

Consider Senjoj Jones’ intentional murder of a teen at a mall to the actions of truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos.

Aguilera-Mederos no doubt acted negligently as he drove a logging truck for his employer down Interstate 70 heading into Denver after a long day of driving down steep grades in the mountains. The 25-year-old made mistake after mistake and had opportunities to avert disaster that he missed.

But Aguilera-Mederos did not intentionally kill anyone.

When his truck lost its brakes, he careened down the hill unable to slow until it crashed into vehicles stopped in heavy traffic outside of Denver. We think 10 years in prison seems about right for such a tragic, albeit not deliberate, outcome due to negligence. Aguilera-Mederos was not malicious. He was incompetent.

District Attorney Alexis King has performed extraordinarily poorly. The handling of this case demonstrates much of what is wrong with our justice system. She overcharged the case and then blamed the perpetrator when he refused to negotiate with a proverbial gun held to his head.

Then we learned that prosecutors in King’s office celebrated the guilty verdict. One prosecutor gave another a part of a truck’s brake as a memento. King said her office took action after a photo of the truck brake was posted on social media with a fawning memo from a young prosecutor, but hasn’t yet publicly said what that action was. She’s not exactly being transparent in how she runs her public office entrusted to uphold this state’s justice system.

Polis should be commended for quickly providing a remedy for the mess created by King’s office. Prosecutors should take note that the public is increasing scrutiny of their behavior. It’s time to clean house.

— The Denver Post

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