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Colorado deputy DA received trophy after securing 110-year sentence for truck driver who killed four

A Colorado deputy district attorney is facing a barrage of backlash and calls for disciplinary action after she posted a now-deleted Facebook image of a ‘trophy’ she received for securing the controversial 110-year sentence for a truck driver who killed four people.

Kayla Wildeman shared a photo of a semi-truck’s brake shoe that was gifted to her by fellow deputy DA Trevor Moritzky as congratulations her for her work in the conviction of 26-year-old Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, who claimed his brakes had failed in the tragic accident on April 25, 2019.

He was found guilty of 42 counts, including vehicular assault, first-degree homicide, first-degree assault, reckless driving, and careless driving, and slapped with the stern sentence on December 13.

Soon afterwards, Wildeman, 27, touted her team’s success in the since-deleted, undated post to social media.

‘Get yourself a trial partner as great as Trevor Moritzky,’ Wildeman wrote in a contentious caption for the photo, referring to her fellow Colorado deputy DA who gifted her the trophy. ‘He turned a brake shoe from a semi-truck into a memento.

‘What a special gift from truly a special person.’

State prosecutor Kayla Wildeman, 27, celebrated securing 26-year-old Rogel Aguilera-Mederos' stern sentence in a since-deleted Facebook post

State prosecutor Kayla Wildeman, 27, celebrated securing 26-year-old Rogel Aguilera-Mederos’ stern sentence in a since-deleted Facebook post

'Get yourself a trial partner as great as Trevor Moritzky,' Wildeman wrote in a contentious caption for the photo, referring to her fellow Colorado deputy DA who gifted her the trophy. 'He turned a brake shoe from a semi-truck into a memento'

‘Get yourself a trial partner as great as Trevor Moritzky,’ Wildeman wrote in a contentious caption for the photo, referring to her fellow Colorado deputy DA who gifted her the trophy. ‘He turned a brake shoe from a semi-truck into a memento’

Wildeman and Moritzky were co-chairs in the conviction, and the lengthy sentencing has led to an outraged cry for clemency for the driver – backed by a petition with more than 4.5 million signatures and a boycott staged by truckers in Colorado.

The petition was posted on Change.org in 2019 and called for the trucking company to be held responsible rather than Aguilera. It also calls for his sentence to be commuted to time served or for Governor Jared Polis to grant him clemency.

‘I made this petition because I am a native to Colorado, who believes this man is NOT a criminal and this was purely an accident,’ wrote organizer Heather Giblee.

The crass social media slip-up by the Colorado attorney comes amid continued social unrest after last Monday's sentencing, which saw Rogel Aguilera-Medero (pictured) weep upon learning he could serve 110 years in prison for the crash, which he claimed was an accident

The crass social media slip-up by the Colorado attorney comes amid continued social unrest after last Monday’s sentencing, which saw Rogel Aguilera-Medero (pictured) weep upon learning he could serve 110 years in prison for the crash, which he claimed was an accident

Relatives of the victims are disputing the narrative circulating the internet and claim that Aguilera-Mederos is not a victim, as many of his supporters allege (Pictured: The fiery fatal crash on I-70 in Jefferson County on April 35, 2019)

Relatives of the victims are disputing the narrative circulating the internet and claim that Aguilera-Mederos is not a victim, as many of his supporters allege (Pictured: The fiery fatal crash on I-70 in Jefferson County on April 35, 2019)

First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King assured DailyMail.com in a statement Tuesday the matter has been addressed ‘internally,’ and clarified that the trophy was ‘not a piece of evidence from the case,’ but ‘was in very poor taste and does not reflect the values’ of her administration.

In the statement, King said through a spokesperson that she became aware of Wildeman’s post on Monday, and ‘took immediate action.’

‘We have addressed it internally,’ the attorney asserted.

More than 4.5 million people have signed a petition for clemency or commutation for ex-trucker Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos

More than 4.5 million people have signed a petition for clemency or commutation for ex-trucker Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos

Organizers of the petition as well as a slew of other onlookers have slammed last week's sentence as unnecessarily harsh

Organizers of the petition as well as a slew of other onlookers have slammed last week’s sentence as unnecessarily harsh

The Colorado DA did not specify what measures were taken or whether Wildeman and Moritzky have been terminated for the widely seen gaffe.  

She did, however, assert that the brake shoe used in the trophy was not a piece of evidence recovered from the scene of the fiery 28-car pile up.

The Colorado prosecutor further declared that it is not customary for state attorneys to exchange gifts to commemorate trial victories.

Meanwhile, Aguilera-Mederos’ outraged attorney James Colgan argued to The Denver Post Monday that ‘Lives are ruined all around, and they celebrate,’ 

The livid legal eagle added that the post was decidedly ‘unprofessional.’

Latino civil rights organization The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) has also since registered its outrage over the post, demanding that the state of California stage ‘immediate disciplinary action’ against the prosecutor, who the org asserted should issue ‘a formal apology.’

‘To say we are disgusted over this so-called trophy is an understatement,’ National President Domingo Garcia told The Post Monday.

‘LULAC demands a full investigation into the matter to identify the people who are involved so that they face the maximum disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.’

Other Colorado jurists also reacted to Wildeman’s widely seen post as well, slamming the young state attorney for celebrating Aguilera-Mederos’ sentencing.

‘This is very disturbing,’ Tristan Gorman, legislative policy coordinator for the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, told The Post about the incident.

‘It obviously flies in the face of the prosecution’s ethical obligation to seek justice rather than a conviction.

‘It’s just bragging rights about a trial win, where people on both sides, their lives were either ended or forever changed. The tone of it seems almost like the prosecutor is treating it like a game she won.’

The sentence has since spurred a boycott staged by truckers in Colorado, whom are refusing to enter the state until clemency is granted for Aguilera-Mederos

The sentence has since spurred a boycott staged by truckers in Colorado, whom are refusing to enter the state until clemency is granted for Aguilera-Mederos

Moreover, Douglas Cohen, a defense attorney and former prosecutor for King’s Office, conceded to the paper that while ‘high-fiving colleagues is common for trial lawyers on both sides of the aisle… the brake shoe memento shows a total lack of empathy and dishonors the role of prosecutors.’

Neither Wildeman nor Moritzky could not be reached for comment concerning the incident Tuesday.

The crass social media slip-up by the Colorado attorney comes amid continued social unrest after last Monday’s sentencing, which many have deemed unnecessarily harsh. 

Aguilera-Mederos was slapped with the 110-year judgment last Monday.

Conor Cahill, a spokesman for Colorado Governor Jared Polis, said in a statement Monday that the office would consider a clemency application from Aguilera-Mederos if sent, but added that the truck driver has not yet submitted such a request.

King, meanwhile, said last week that she would ‘welcome’ a reconsideration of Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence – despite her office fighting tooth and nail throughout court proceedings to ensure that Aguilera-Mederos was indeed sentenced.

The sternness of the sentence, however, stemmed from the fact that under Colorado law, first-degree assault and attempted first-degree assault considered ‘crimes of violence,’ in which prison sentences must run consecutively, and not concurrently, when stemming from the same incident.

Cohen said the supposed trophy should not distract from the larger issues in the recently wrapped case.

‘Why did the district attorney, who has unfettered discretion in the filing of charges, seek a century-long sentence for a tragic accident?’ the attorney said. ‘It’s a fair question that the legal community and community at large is asking.’

The governor is the only person who can grant clemency at the state level. Polis most recently commuted four sentences and issued 18 pardons in December 2020. Clemency usually results in a sentence reduction or a pardon.

During court proceedings, Aguilera-Mederos had claimed the brakes in his truck had failed and he lost control, but prosecutors argued in court that he could have taken steps to prevent the crash, including using a runaway truck ramp miles before the wreck. He made a ‘bunch of bad decisions’ instead, they said.

Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was sentenced to 110 consecutive years in prison last week

Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was sentenced to 110 consecutive years in prison last week

But his defense attorney claimed he did not know that his truck brakes were smoking or that he would not be able to stop. He also argued that Aguilera-Mederos’ actions were a series of negligent decisions, and that he did not intend to hurt anybody.

But in October, a jury found him guilty  of 27 criminal charges, including:

  • Four counts of vehicular homicide
  • Two counts of vehicular assault
  • Six counts of assault in the first-degree with extreme indifference
  • 10 counts of criminal attempt to commit assault in the first degree
  • One count of reckless driving
  • Four counts of careless driving causing death

He was also found not guilty of 15 counts of criminal attempts to commit assaults in the first degree.

Before his sentencing on Monday, Aguilera-Mederos pleaded with the judge to be lenient, breaking down in tears as he spoke.

‘It’s hard. This was a terrible accident, I know,’ he said. ‘I take the responsibility, but it was an accident.

Some of the lumber Aguilera-Mederos was transporting was strewn across I-70 as traffic was stopped in both directions

Some of the lumber Aguilera-Mederos was transporting was strewn across I-70 as traffic was stopped in both directions

Smoke billowed throughout the sky in the aftermath of the crash

Smoke billowed throughout the sky in the aftermath of the crash

‘I have never thought about hurting anyone in my entire life and Jesus Christ, he knows that, he knows my heart,’ he continued.

‘I am not a criminal, I am not a murderer.’

‘The accident – it wasn’t intentional, it wasn’t intentional, Your Honor. I did all that I can as a man. I put myself in harm’s way to avoid harming anyone else.’

He claimed that he tried to avoid the traffic, and noted that he did not flee in the aftermath ‘because I respect the laws.

‘I want to say sorry, sorry for the loss, sorry for the people injured,’ he concluded, noting: ‘I ask … God many times why them and not me.’

.

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