Criminal Justice

Rogel Aguilera-Mederos Rejected a Plea Deal. So He Got 110 Years in Prison.

Colorado First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King said she pursued the punishment after Aguilera-Mederos insisted on his right to trial.

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Rogel Aguilera-Mederos' recent sentencing sparked significant backlash. The Colorado man received 110 years behind bars after his truck brakes failed, causing a traffic accident that killed four people in April 2019. The first person to object to the sentence was the judge who imposed it, lamenting the state's mandatory sentencing laws as he handed it down. Another government official is now speaking up: First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King, who sought the punishment in the first place, and who tells Reason she never felt such a punitive response was necessary to protect public safety.

"My administration contemplated a significantly different outcome in this case and initiated plea negotiations but Mr. Aguilera-Mederos declined to consider anything other than a traffic ticket," she told me last week.

King's statement may not shock the conscience at first glance: Plea deals are a fixture of the U.S. criminal legal system. But her remarks hit at something deeper. By her own admission, Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced to die in prison not because the state felt that was the fair and just punishment, but because he insisted on exercising his constitutional right to trial.

Called the "trial penalty," prosecutors are known to pile on superfluous charges and threaten astronomical prison time unless the defendant agrees to plead guilty and save them the trouble of a trial. Should the defendant insist on his innocence, and should a jury disagree, he will likely receive a much more severe sentence for the same actions. The only difference is that he invoked his Sixth Amendment right.

King's office declined to comment on the precise parameters of the deal she would've offered. But as I wrote last week, whatever it was wouldn't have come remotely close to 110 years.

"Prosecutors vastly prefer for cases, almost always, to resolve through plea bargains. They're faster, and they're much more certain for the government," says Clark Neily, senior vice president for legal studies at the Cato Institute. "Jury trials by contrast are expensive, time consuming, and uncertain….What [prosecutors] will do oftentimes is to get very creative in bringing all of the charges that they can think of, basically to increase the defendant's exposure."

That exposure then becomes a powerful bargaining chip against those facing time behind bars. Aguilera-Mederos took the gamble. He was charged with 42 counts and convicted on 27, resulting in the mandatory century-plus sentence.

Both the defense and the government acknowledged that Aguilera-Mederos' truck brakes gave out and that the accident wasn't driven by malice. So you can perhaps imagine why he thought a jury might sympathize. He was correct: After the sentencing, one person on the panel said he "cried [his] eyes out," unaware that convicting him on the charges the government brought would carry such a ghastly term. (Juries are not informed what punishments are attached to crimes.)

But Aguilera-Mederos' decision was also gutsy and unorthodox. Only 3 percent of cases go to trial, and his fate sheds some light on why so many people opt to take a deal. If you don't, you could pay with your life.

The once-scandalous practice is now par for the course across the country. In Maricopa County, Arizona, defendants receive a warning on prospective plea deals: "THE OFFER IS WITHDRAWN IF THE WITNESS PRELIMINARY HEARING IS SET OR WAIVED….*NOTE: COUNTY ATTORNEY POLICY DICTATES THAT IF THE DEFENDANT REJECTS THIS OFFER, ANY SUBSEQUENT OFFER TENDERED WILL BE SUBSTANTIALLY HARSHER." In other words, not only is the trial penalty the stated policy, but defendants are also penalized solely for wanting to attend a hearing or see the evidence against them. The American Civil Liberties Union is currently suing Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel, alleging the practice is illegal.

Last week, King quietly began the process to have Aguilera-Mederos' sentence—the one she asked for—reduced. She will be speaking with the families of the victims for their input on a more appropriate sentence, according to The Denver Post. But that hits at a similar issue, notes Olayemi Olurin, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society. "It reflects the fact that it's not about what you actually think is just," she says, whether you're punishing someone more harshly because they exercised a constitutional right or because of an emotional response from the victims' families. "We're not actually analyzing whether or not this is what's best for society, if this is what's necessary to deal with this issue. We have to have an honest conversation sometimes about the fact that harm happens. You can't necessarily right that wrong….Tragedies can happen, and it doesn't mean a person needs to spend 110 years in jail."

Aguilera-Mederos may not have to serve out that full sentence. But not every defendant is fortunate enough to captivate society with his unjust punishment. And future defendants in King's jurisdiction have received a strong message.

"It's sort of a modern-day version of a crucifixion," adds Neily. "The sentence here is not just about this defendant. The sentence here is about discouraging other defendants from exercising their right to a trial."

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  1. Two questions:
    1) Was he responsible for the maintenance of the vehicle?
    2) There was a claim he bypasses at least one gravel run-off ramp, is that true and did it happen after the brakes failed?

    1. I've not seen anyone address those questions. I don't even know if the jury was allowed to know them. Everyone concentrates on the end result only. It is crazy that up-front murderers and rapists get lesser sentences, all the Burn Loot Murder deaths haven't been pursued, yet a driver gets 110 years.

      Yet everyone just screams "too much" without addressing the underlaying issues.

      1. To address those questions:

        1) People saw his brakes smoking. He had previously pulled off, stopped his vehicle, and examined his brakes higher up the slope. He called people because he was concerned about the brakes. He then got back into his truck and continued downslope for another thirty minutes in a vehicle where he was concerned about the brakes.

        2) He passed multiple run-off ramps, at least one of which was caught on film as he's swerving his truck out of control. In his own words he saw the initial sign for the run-off ramp but claims he didn't see the final two signs showing it. So he spoke enough English to know what a run-away ramp was and he recognized it, he testified to it.

        3) If he was concerned about the danger to himself of taking a runaway ramp, why wasn't he concerned about the possibility of dying if there was any traffic anywhere down the slope? He's extremely lucky that accident didn't kill him in addition to his victims.

        This wasn't a momentary lapse. I'd be forgiven if he lost control, panicked, and made a bad decision. His vehicle was out of control for several minutes and he missed many opportunities to do something besides what he did. If we're arguing over 40 years versus 110, fine, but I'm not in favor of clemency for this asshole, especially since he thought he could get off with just a traffic ticket.

        1. Thanks for the details. Not just an accident then, not just bad luck. He was taking too many chances. Maybe the company is partially at fault, for either pushing him on that phone call, or skipping training, or hiring without any kind of testing in either driving or common sense. But ultimately, personal responsibility makes this his fault, even if the phone call was to a dispatcher who flat lied about how dangerous smoking brakes were; he's the driver, he ought to know what smoking brakes mean.

          1. Right-the company almost certainly has civil liability here and perhaps criminal liability. But whatever guilt the company has, it doesn't absolve the guilt of the driver. Their actions are not the same as his actions.

            He claims he had never seen or smelled his brakes smoking before he pulled off, despite what other drivers saw, but it makes me wonder why he was pulling off to check his brakes if he didn't know they were smoking. That's the tragedy here, and what pisses me off-the vehicle was stopped, he was out of it, he was looking at the brakes. There's an eminently preventable tragedy here.

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        2. Not to mention that he was going 85 in a 45 zone.

          1. Well that's by the bottom of the slope after he'd lost any ability to brake. I don't really care about his speed because I don't believe he intended to move at that speed. He got moving too fast and was unable to downshift by that point. But he should have taken the run-away ramp (one of several he allegedy passed) when he had the chance.

          2. That was probably due, at least in part, to the failing brakes, and gravity. It's a long downhill slope into Denver from the west. You can argue that he's responsible for the brake failure without insinuating that he was flooring the gas pedal.

            1. You don't even have to argue that he's responsible for the brake failure. He made a conscious choice to to continue down slope when he knew something was wrong with his breaks.

              Minimum of negligent homicide for every one who died in the accident he caused.

              1. So he made a conscious decision not to stop after his brakes failed?

                1. He already pulled over on the side of the road earlier on the route because he knew something was wrong with his brakes and consciously chose to continue. He called multiple people while he was stopped. While his brakes were still operable but fading he called multiple people and passed multiple runaway ramps. Then after his brakes failed he passed one runaway ramp and multiple other ditch points which would have been significantly more dangerous to him but would have avoided the stopped traffic.

                2. Yes. As ravenshrike mentioned, there are mechanisms available for trucks with failing or failed brakes to use to stop, which he ignored. Not using them was a conscious decision.

        3. I don't know enough yet about this case to comment on his liability for maintenance. I do, however, know enough to question the video evidence that you (and apparently the jury) are relying on. Specifically, I do not believe that you are fully considering the problems of attentional blindness - the condition where a high-stress situation can cause you to be functionally blind to options and conditions around you as your brain narrows your focus to the immediate need. The testimony after the fact could be evidence that he was not attentionally blind but the testimony and known facts are also consistent with implanted memories from interviews with police and even his own attorneys.

          No, this wasn't a momentary lapse but neither was it intentional. This penalty is far more severe than is routinely handed out for intentional murders. That is fundamentally unjust.

          1. "...the condition where a high-stress situation can cause you to be functionally blind to options and conditions around you as your brain narrows your focus to the immediate need..."

            This sound suspiciously like 'the devil made me do it'.
            If you want support for your claim, please be very specific in your explanation of how it applies in this case.

            1. If you are not familiar with the research on attentional blindness, I'm not sure how to be more specific. On the other hand, if you already are familiar with the research, I don't know what other specificity you need.

          2. Agreed.

          3. The penelty is too sever, as admktd by the procecuters the purpose of it was to discourage others from going to trial. The drivers guil or innocence has no bearing on weather the procecuters behaved morrally

            1. I agree with your point but don't type so fast. That spell check thing can be very helpful. I know as a man of the cloth you rely on a higher power to guide you. Let the spell checker be that power.

          4. Did attentional blindness cause him to ignore his brake problem when he pulled over earlier in the route for a totally separate reason that in NO WAY had to do with his brakes and was looking at them but decided to continue without engaging his jake brake and staying in low gear?

        4. "To address those questions:..."
          Thank you.
          So he certainly owns part of the result and a traffic citation was not appropriate.
          Still not seeing 110 years, but seeing something more than a tag.

          1. I’m there too.

          2. Yeah. Not saying NO punishment...but 110 years? And do we know that when he called about his concerns if he was assured that the brakes were fine and to not worry?

            1. 110 sounds ridiculous, sure, but what's the substantial difference from 40 years? If he lives beyond 63 he gets out but what's he going to do at that point? His life is ruined at that point but it's still a fair deal because he fucking killed people by making a series of insane mistakes.

          3. The traffic ticket thing was according to the procecuters who we know can't be trusted

            1. My thoughts exactly.

            2. I'm willing to be proven wrong on that point. But I haven't heard any kind of contradictory claim.

            3. Exactly, thank you. I don't know how people here can forget this.

        5. He had previously pulled off, stopped his vehicle, and examined his brakes higher up the slope. He called people because he was concerned about the brakes. He then got back into his truck and continued downslope for another thirty minutes in a vehicle where he was concerned about the brakes.

          Completely unrelated to cars but I've had IT things where I thought something was odd, and stopped to look closer and sometimes talk to people... and then went on with what I'd been doing because after that looking into it I wasn't concerned any more.

          1. That can happen. But given that he was concerned about his brakes, then chose to drive on them anyway when they were indeed failing (because he was burning them out from not driving properly) it goes to show that he was definitely acting reckless, and his recklessness cost people their lives.

            1. There is a big difference between being "concerned" about his brakes and "knowing" something was wrong with his brakes.

              I don't know what his background is. Is he also a trained and experienced truck mechanic? What is his training and experience in trucks of this nature?

              If he lacked the expertise to determine if his concern about the brakes was founded and consulted with those he reasonably believed to have that expertise and was assured that the brakes were fine, I find it hard to hold him culpable for continuing.

              Suppose on the way out of the rental car lot you think that the steering seems a bit "odd" on a rental car (a make/model you have never driven before). You go back to the counter where you are told that's the last car so let's have a mechanic look at yours. A mechanic then looks at it and drives it and reports that "No, that's normal for that model because of the uncommon SchwizherFunker steering gear - it's perfectly safe". You then take the car, hop onto the freeway, and a mile later one of the front wheels falls off and you careen into a minivan full of kids killing all of them. How culpable are you vs. the expert who advised you the car was safe?

          2. "Completely unrelated to cars..."

            Speaking from a LOT of experience with all sorts of vehicles; they do NOT 'heal', they have to be 'fixed'.
            If my driver came into the pits and said 'the brakes feel funny', the car stays in the pits until the cause is located and repaired regardless of my (and his) desire to win.
            *shaking fore-finger back and forth* 'No, no, no. We do not hope they'll get better - people die from that'.

        6. The "accident" happened in 2019. Where has this asshole been since then? Hopefully not driving.

    2. 1) Was he responsible for the maintenance of the vehicle?

      Commercial truck drivers are responsible for inspecting their brakes, often multiple times during a trip. That's what "brake check areas" are for.

      He likely destroyed his brakes himself because he lacked experience driving in the mountains. Again, as a licensed commercial driver, it is his responsibility to ensure that he can handle the jobs and the roads he is driving on.

      2) There was a claim he bypasses at least one gravel run-off ramp, is that true and did it happen after the brakes failed?

      Yes. He claimed he couldn't take those emergency ramps, but video evidence at trial showed that he could.

      This was no accident. He is clearly guilty of reckless driving, vehicular homicide, and callous disregard for human life. And he didn't just make one bad choice, he made multiple ones.

      Whether that justifies a sentence of 110 years, I don't know, but I think it does justify a lengthy prison sentence.

      He also has not accepted responsibility for his actions, still insisting that this was just an accident.

      1. He also has not accepted responsibility for his actions, still insisting that this was just an accident.

        He's made several plays for sympathy, but when he went into plea negotiations refusing to accept responsibility for anything more than a minor traffic violation, fuck him. He clearly doesn't realize the depth of how wrong his actions were. He had AMPLE options that would have prevented people dying in this case.

        1. "...when he went into plea negotiations refusing to accept responsibility for anything more than a minor traffic violation, fuck him. He clearly doesn't realize the depth of how wrong his actions were. He had AMPLE options that would have prevented people dying in this case."

          Again, 110 still sounds excessive, but holding out for a ticket tells you he refused to accept his responsibility.

          1. Again we have no idea what plea was offered. The "Traffic Ticket" is the prosecutor's story.

            1. I read elsewhere that he was offered a deal that would have given him 10 years, So when you minus any credits he would receive for good behavior, he would have been looking at 6 or 7 years.

    3. The brakes did not FAIL. There was no mechanical failure, there was driver failure pushing his equipment well past it's tolerances, either because he fraudulently obtained his CDL and thus did not not understand how to used the jake brake and the necessity of downshifting before starting the downslope and what the pictograph warning signs meant or because he gambled on the downslope being less severe than it was and him being able to make better time rather than going down the hill at a sedate 15-25mph pace.

    4. 3) Was his CDL (if he had one) legally obtained?

      A while back (circa 2013), IL had a rash of illegal, sorry, undocumented CDL crashes. Drivers were being put in the driver's seat with either fraudulent CDLs or no CDL at all because they weren't citizens. The solution was to grant them interim licenses.

      If you knowingly rocketed down the hill on vehicle you didn't know how to operate with a fraudulent license, I could see how 110 yrs. would be excessive, but not exceptionally inappropriate. Kinda like if you accidentally shot four people with a concealed firearm without a CCW.

      1. Well our governor went to prison for selling CDLs. But a CDL doesn't teach you how to drive down down the hill whether it's legitimate or not. It's a written test and a drive around the block and backing up in a parking lot. It doesn't make you a truck driver any more than your D license makes you a race car driver.

        1. Right. Issuing illegal immigrants temporary driver's licenses didn't reduce the number of accidents either. It just folded them into the number of accidents caused by people with licenses.

          Also, owning a gun and not knowing how to use it doesn't make you a felon. Shooting four people while carrying without a CCW or with a fraudulent CCW does.

    5. I don't think anyone disputes that he's guilty. It's entirely reasonable to believe someone can be completely 100% guilty of all the crimes they are charged with and still believe that 110 years in prison is too steep of a punishment.

      1. I agree he's guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Nothing else. If he gets the maximum sentence for that fine.

    6. There are several things that can cause brake failure on a semi truck. One is sudden air loss. This would be the result of major damage to or failure of a primary air line or brake chamber (trucks have a primary air tank for braking and a secondary tank for all of the other stuff trucks use compressed air for, like suspension). If the air pressure drops to under 60 psi, the spring brakes automatically engage. A slow secondary air leak can also cause brake failure under some circumstances. All trucks have minor air leaks somewhere in the system. A truck might have no problem with a secondary leak driving on flat land. But in a a situation where heavy braking is required, the compressor might not be able to keep up. An experienced driver will become aware of a serious secondary leak, like a suspension airbag, due to the compressor short cycling. Watch your gauges. Brakes that are out of adjustment can also cause brake failure in a situation like this. I've read that this guy's trailer had 3 out of four brakes out of adjustment, not even contacting the drums. Semi rigs have 10 sets of brakes. They use either auto slack adjusters or manual slack adjusters. Under ordinary circumstances a driver wouldn't notice trailer brakes out of adjustment because the rig will stop just fine with 7 out of 10 sets of brakes working. I suspect this guy was freewheeling in neutral because he couldn't find a gear and with 49,000 lbs. of logs on an open trailer pushing him down the hill he was completely out of control. His first line of defense would be to pull the trailer brake knob. If the brakes were properly adjusted there would be a lot of smoke and fire but it might slow him down enough to grab a gear. In this case it would have no effect because the slack adjusters, probably manual, had not been adjusted recently. If he pulled the tractor brake that trailer would jack knife and wipe out anything within 200 ft. And worn shoes can obviously cause failure in a situation like this. DOT requires that all commercial vehicles pass an annual inspection. brake linings are required to be 1/4 inch. I think new shoes are 7/8ths. but if you're at 3/8ths you're good to go.
      The rule of thumb in trucking is that you go down the hill in the same gear you went up. If you had to downshift to 8th to get up you leave it there going down. Of course the planet is not perfectly symmetrical but the bottom line is you pick a gear at the top of the hill and leave it there. Trying to downshift can leave you in stuck in neutral and believe me you don't want to be there. With the right gear and the engine brake on you should only be using the brake to keep your RPMs out of the red.
      Sorry about the long rant but I just got home after driving 1500 miles in 3 days with a load of steel out of Kansas City bound for Madison Wisconsin. Semi trucks are not cars. Aside from having a steering wheel they have very little in common. Your experience driving a car is of no value in judging truck drivers. It's apples and oranges. Truck drivers are not mechanics and they usually get paid by the mile. Not for the time they spend fucking around with truck maintenance. The carrier is responsible for putting the driver in a safe, legally compliant vehicle and ensuring that he or she is capable of running the freight and the route required. I think this kid was in way over his head and he is guilty of involuntary manslaughter. If he did stop the truck and called the carrier about the brakes they should have gotten him a roadside mechanic to deal with the issue. It appears that he was told to take it down the hill. He had one other option, abandon the truck and try to get home. In the trucking business a driver who abandons the truck will never work again. Period. The kid shouldn't have been driving that truck and he killed people. He made bad decisions and people died. The people who could have prevented the situation didn't. But a life sentence for involuntary manslaughter is not justice.

    7. You don't lose your brakes on an 18 wheeler. If you lose air pressure 10 sets of brakes are going come on and there's nothing you're gonna do about it.

      1. You do going down a mountain, because the excessive heat will melt your brake linings.

    8. I drove by the resulting carnage shortly after it occurred (still smoldering) and it is remarkable that 'only' 4 people died.

      I don't recall the details, but I recall that the trucking company was reported to have had a history of neglecting maintenance on their trucks.

      And yes, there was a gravel run-off prior to where the accident occurred. There was also quite a bit of relatively level roadway after the gravel trap and where the accident actually occurred where could have attempted to slow the truck down on the shoulder steering into the metal guard-rail.

      There also would have been no expectation that traffic would have been at a standstill at the point of the impact.

      I'm sure he was scared out of his wits and clearly not making the best choices, but he wasn't drunk or otherwise impaired. So yeah, 110 years is nucking futs and I'm glad to hear that the prosecutor is attempting to have it reduced. Regardless, it seems that a 'No Contest' plea would have been a better choice.

  2. ban mandatory sentencing.

    1. And, codify a requirement that prosecutors decide on the maximum charges they will pursue BEFORE beginning negotiations on a plea deal. No piling on charges in reprisal for rejecting a deal.

      1. absolutely. 7A not for prosecutors to use as a career-advancement tool

        1. The only way the prosecutor was abusing his discretion in this case was by undercharging the driver in the proposed plea deal.

      2. How about codify a requirement that prosecutors actually charge the correct charges?

        In this case, the driver was charged with the correct charges, the jury found him guilty, and he was sentenced to the minimum sentence.

        1. Is a 1A issue to me. Mandatory sentences restrict individual rights to speech of the jury members.

          1. How so? Juries determine guilt or innocence; they don't determine the sentence.

          2. It's a damned if you do damned if you don't. Give leeway in sentencing and it can be abused, give no leeway and it can be abused.

            The redundancy in charges for the facts is the real problem for me. Here 4 deaths and 10 potentially fatal injuries erved consecutively is a lot of years any way you slice it if the sentence is meaningful individually. So 10 years per fatality, 5 per injury is 90 years for someone who ignored every warning available, in that light 110 isn't that far off.

    2. Mandatory sentencing is fine. There are too many incidents of judges letting people walk free with insane sentences in the other direction. However, there should not be mandatory SEQUENTIAL sentencing. The fact is that the DA stacked nearly 30 charges for one incident, and it was the grand total that made everything insane. If they gave the judge the option of how to set the sentencing of multiple charges (like, the negligent homicides run sequential and everything else is concurrent because they are meaningless in comparison), this wouldn't be a problem.

    3. "ban mandatory sentencing."
      +1

    4. At the same time, 2 yrs. probation for mostly peaceful protesting and 44 for insurrection while wearing a buffalo hat doesn't exactly seem right either.

  3. Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced to die in prison not because the state felt that was the fair and just punishment, but because he insisted on exercising his constitutional right to trial.

    The people, through their elected representatives, "felt" that 110 years was a "fair and just punishment" because that's what the minimum sentence under the law actually is.

    The DA tried to circumvent the legislature and the will of the people with a plea deal. That's the actual outrage here.

    Whether 110 years is appropriate or excessive is a separate discussion.

    1. Libertarians are strong proponents of the 6th thru 8th amendments, you'll find – even when "the people" are not satisfied by such rights.

      1. I don't see how the 6th-8th apply here. Personally, I would favor 30-40 years. A sentence of 110 years is harsh, but it still doesn't seem "cruel and unusual" given the number of deaths and injuries, the callousness of the actions, and the lack of remorse.

        Can you make an argument that it is cruel and unusual?

        1. I would favor 30-40 years.

          For what? He was negligent at best. There was no malice. No guilty mind.

          1. Of course there was a "guilty mind". He made multiple, deliberate choices to operate a massive, dangerous truck in a very unsafe manner, knowing what risk to other drivers would be.

            1. It's the deliberate part I'm having trouble with.

            2. He fucked up. Yeah. For sure. As RR said he was out of his element. You could convince me of negligence, maybe. But deliberate? No. Not the way he acted and reacted. No way.

              1. If he was "out of his element" then he obtained his CDL by fraud and/or should have stopped driving.

                Would you accept these kinds of excuses from any other professional? "Dr. Jones thought he could perform the neurosurgery, but he was never taught basic neuroanatomy, got confused during the surgery, and the patient is dead. Sorry,sh*t happens."

                1. Would you accept these kinds of excuses from any other professional?

                  Dude they don't accept these kinds of excuses from people going to the grocery store without a mask.

                  Fuck the "he may've been negligent" disingenuous bullshit.

                2. Jesus I wish people would get over this CDL shit. It's a written test and a driving test just like your D license you got when you were 16. You learn to drive a car by driving a car. You learn to drive a truck by driving a truck. A magical government credential doesn't impart any knowledge or skills. And by the way, surgeons kill people every day. And they tell the patient in advance that the surgery might kill them. And they tell the family that shit happened.

                  1. As someone who was both driving before the age of 15 and, later, held a CDL, you need to get over you.

                    If he was inexperienced and/or gained access to property he shouldn't have via fraud, he committed a no-shit crime, even by exceedingly libertarian standards, before he even killed anyone. Whether you wish people didn't need CDLs or not is immaterial.

                    I don't agree in the least with IL's gun laws. At the same time, The Waffle House shooter's Dad giving him a gun after he knew he got out of a mental institution is quite arguably a crime and clearly endangering people. As I said below, mandatory minimums suck but giving BLM rioters 2 yrs. probation while handing down 4 decade prison sentences for "insurrection" isn't better.

                  2. Jesus I wish people would get over this CDL shit. It's a written test and a driving test just like your D license you got when you were 16.

                    And when you recklessly mow down a dozen people with your car, you should also go to jail for a long long time.

                    When you operate a vehicle, you are responsible for your own behavior. The CDL matters to the extent that commercial truck drivers are expected to exercise special care because their vehicle pose a special risk. The CDL is your agreement with the rest of society that you will exercise that special care.

                    And by the way, surgeons kill people every day.

                    You're missing the point. People die in surgery every day. Doctors even make mistakes every day. But "I lacked experience to perform this surgery and I did it anyway" is not an excuse; any surgeon that did that would be found guilty of a felony.

          2. He made, and testified to in court, the conscious decision to not use the earlier runaway ramps while his brakes were fading(not just the last one after his bakes faded completely that he supposedly did not see) or ditch elsewhere(which he testified as not doing because of fears for his personal safety) before hitting traffic. All this in an 85,000lb+ semi-trailer. He chose to ram into those people knowing it would kill them because he refused to take responsibility for his prior negligible actions.

    2. From many of the legislators that passed it, they did not intend for this to be the result of their law. There is a reason that we have humans in charge of the law, not brainless automatons. We need prosecutors to uphold the spirit, not just the letter

    3. This was the prosecution contorting the law by piling on multiple charges.

  4. This is the result for pretty much everybody who doesn't plea bargain when facing a serious charge. The feds are the best at this, usually loading the defendant with such a long list of accusations that there is no hope of defending against all of them. Plea bargaining in this environment gives our feds a conviction rate that matches any foreign dictatorship you want to name.

    And it doesn't happen only to individuals with Spanish-sounding surnames.

    1. It would concern me much more here if I thought this guy was innocent, or guilty of something less than he's charged with. He caused multiple deaths and injuries and expansive damage to the roadway through actions that showed a depraved indifference to the consequences.

      I understand that if you're a truck driver, you're not getting paid unless the wheels are moving, but you need to factor in some basic safety calculus here. I don't care if the juror is remorseful after hearing the sentencing, to be frank. Fuck this guy.

      The company also likely bears some responsibility for hiring this guy, but their guilt does not absolve his guilt. They are guilty of different actions than the driver's actions.

      1. Except he's actually remorseful for what happened, and unlike a lot of criminal slimebags, doesn't have a prior record.

        Like i posted below, given where he was at, I'd chalk this up to an inexperienced driver who freaked out and lost his good sense in an unfamiliar area (seriously, you want to know terror? Go down that specific hill in the winter time with no tire chains and snow/ice all over the road. It will give you good sense of what was probably going through his mind.).

        1. I'm sure that he's remorseful that he's going to jail for a very, very long time. I'm also sure that didn't actually want to kill anyone.

          But the truth is that he was risking his own life as well so I don't get the "I was scared of dying if the truck rolled over" defense. Why wasn't he scared of crashing into congested traffic and dying as a result of that? He's insanely lucky to be alive today. I'm not sympathetic about a guy getting 110 years when he deserves 40. The media is just running with the huge number because it seems shocking out of context, and the Defendant looks kind of sympathetic.

        2. Except he's actually remorseful for what happened

          He is clearly not remorseful for his own choices that led to this outcome. That's why he turned down the plea bargain and believed he deserved just a traffic ticket.

          I'd chalk this up to an inexperienced driver who freaked out and lost his good sense in an unfamiliar area

          He's a licensed commercial driver. If he is inexperienced and/or lost "his good sense in an unfamiliar area", he shouldn't take the job or (if already on the road) stop driving. Continuing is not acceptable when you are behind the wheel of a vehicle where the slightest mistake can kill dozens.

          When you get behind the wheel of a big truck, the buck stops with you: you are responsible for the condition of the truck, for your own health and state of mind, for the route, for the load, for proper behavior in emergency situations, for not panicking, etc.

          And if you want to blame "the company", the licensed commercial drivers are the only people at a trucking company who have the expertise to make such choices. Again, his responsibility.

          1. From what I've heard, also, he chose his own route, not the trucking company. I don't know if that completely absolves them of responsibility (Such as, I don't know what was said when he was on the phone talking to his boss about his brakes, or why they hired a driver who was likely inexperienced) but it does add elements to his own culpability.

            I've also heard that the brakes were almost new when he started this trip. He probably burned them out himself. People saw his brakes smoking, apparently before he stopped, but he claimed he had never seen his brakes smoking, which is really difficult to swallow in light of the fact that he stopped to inspect them.

            1. I think the choice is this. Either we treat commercial truck drivers as responsible professionals; in that case, we give them a great deal of leeway in how to operate, but also impose serious penalties when they fail. Or we treat commercial truck drivers as blue collar employees working for big companies and little autonomy in return for shifting liability and responsibility to companies. I don't think there are other options. I know which one I prefer.

              1. Yeah, I dunno. I'm not in favor of treating everyone who gets a government license as if they're immediately an expert. I've seen the kind of morons who can end up being certified to teach, certified to practice law, or certified to practice medicine.

                I think if I'm running a trucking company, I want to verify, independently, that the guy I'm hiring as a driver is competent enough he's not going to scatter potentially millions of dollars of merchandise on the side of a mountain. There's value in truckers being able to operate as independent contractors, but I only see that working if they own and maintain the vehicle themselves.

                In the end, even if the trucking company has liability for hiring an incompetent driver who didn't speak enough English to read the Texas CDL manual, it doesn't absolve the individual's responsibility. They can both be at fault. The man was not a child, he was old enough that he's ultimately responsible for his own decisions, and he should know about run-away ramps. The fact that he was competent enough to stop his vehicle, inspect his brakes, and make multiple calls to ask for advice on the brakes shows he knew about the risks he was taking.

                1. Well, you talk in generalities. Can you get specific?

                  Let's say I create an LLC and hire a driver to drive loads for me. I check his CDL and his insurance. I send him off on his merry way and he goes off and kills four people with the truck.

                  What specifically should I have done differently? Remember, I don't have a CDL. I may not know a commercial truck from a tricycle. He is the licensed commercial driver and supposedly the expert, I'm an accountant and investor hiring a licensed expert.

                  And in your world, how does that work if the CDL driver is an owner-operator? Should those just not exist? Are the people who hire them responsible?

              2. I'm pretty sure I've said enough on this thread but I'll respond again here. You are pretty close here. I'm a truck driver. Flatbed owner/operator. I own and drive a truck leased to a carrier. In the truck driver skill hierarchy that's something like 3rd from the top of the feeding chain exceeded by flatbed haulers with authority and heavy haul drivers hauling windmills and shit. I have also worked as a company driver. But no matter your place in the trucking world nobody treats truck drivers as "professionals". The vast majority of truck drivers are paid on a 19th century piecemeal model. Cents per mile. The industry understands, correctly, that the drivers time is of no value. Only miles pay. This model is codified in federal law. Trucking carriers are exempt from overtime and minimum wage laws that virtually every other employee benefits from. This pay scheme allows carriers to divert the cost of their unbillable hours onto their employee drivers. It also allows shippers and receivers to shift the costs of their inefficiencies onto truck drivers. Company truck drivers are expected to work a 14 hour day. Statistically they only drive on average, actually earning money, six and a half hours a day. They spend the rest of their time waiting to get loaded/unloaded, waiting for road service to replace a blown tire, fueling, or dealing with the the relentless stream of bullshit that comes their way. How many "professionals" out there are willing to get paid for less than half of their work? All of this wouldn't be a problem if driver compensation made the job worth doing. But the reality is that most rookie OTR drivers are not earning minimum wage for a 14 hour day at straight time let alone the overtime that carriers won't, and are not required, to pay. How many professionals are putting up with this shit? Truck drivers are treated like blue collar workers by the entire transport industry and by the federal government who classifies them as unskilled labor.
                On the other side the truck driver is personally responsible for everything that happens with the truck and the load. If the shipper overloads you, you are personally responsible for the fine and it can be thousands of dollars. If you get a moving violation the insurance premium on your wife's car will go up. And if you carry a CDL you can't go to driving school or plead down the charge even if you get a speeding ticket driving your car. And as this case illustrates, the potential for civil and criminal liability can lead to personal bankruptcy and prison time.
                The reality is that we want to treat truck drivers like "professionals" when assigning liability but like blue collar drones in every other respect. The purported truck driver shortage has reasons far beyond those I've cited here but spending the rest of your life in prison for working a crappy underpaid job is a pretty good argument for avoiding the "profession" altogether.

                1. But no matter your place in the trucking world nobody treats truck drivers as "professionals". The vast majority of truck drivers are paid on a 19th century piecemeal model. Cents per mile.

                  In what way is that not "professional"? How do you think other professionals get paid? Software developers, engineers, and other professionals also frequently get paid based on specific results, and if they have cost overruns, they are SOL. If they screw up or hurt someone, they are SOL.

                  On the other side the truck driver is personally responsible for everything that happens with the truck and the load. If the shipper overloads you, you are personally responsible for the fine and it can be thousands of dollars. If you get a moving violation the insurance premium on your wife's car will go up. And if you carry a CDL you can't go to driving school or plead down the charge even if you get a speeding ticket driving your car. And as this case illustrates, the potential for civil and criminal liability can lead to personal bankruptcy and prison time.

                  That is how professionals operate in the real world.

                  The reality is that we want to treat truck drivers like "professionals" when assigning liability but like blue collar drones in every other respect.

                  Blue collar drones have little personal responsibility, little liability, and are paid by the hour, not by results. It seems like that's what you actually want.

                  Individual liability, payment for deliverables rather than time, lack of support, etc. are all hallmarks of professionals. Welcome to the real world.

                2. I feel as though as long as there is a human operator behind the wheel—and by the way, anyone getting paid to do something is a professional (ask a prostitute); I understand our societal distinction between e.g. law and medicine as professional occupations versus “unskilled” labor, but in reality all labor is skilled to some extent, and anyone getting paid for it is not an amateur—then some non-trivial level of responsibility must attach to him: these machines are much to dangerous to create a dynamic in which the person on scene, driving, possessed of the closest register of the prevailing facts and conditions can psychologically distance himself from his deadly serious duty by displacing all responsibility onto a distant company structure—not even another person necessarily but just a nebulous corporate blob—in other words, it’s no one’s fault! We should, in my ideal world, attach the most significant, most critical responsibility to those in the best position to respond to those responsibilities. In this case, sure he could be on the phone with the trucking company, but how clearly did—or realistically could—he communicate the particulars of his situation, and to whom? The exact grade of the road, the level of traffic, the amount of smoking the brakes were doing, how he had been handling those brakes, etc. are all important variables that the driver knew best, thus the responsibility descends on him. I take your point that a CDL may not signify a high degree of familiarity or skill with the platform being operated; nevertheless, society attaches major trust to commercial truck drivers and expects them at all times to handle their vehicle with the utmost prudence and care. This driver failed us that day. Sure, it was a tough, unfair set of circumstances but he was far too cavalier to be driving this big truck and should have backed off. Instead it seems he just wanted to push his luck because any other course of action would have been inconvenient and unremunerative to him. No doubt we can embrace the synergistic power of AND to note that both he AND the company that hired his unqualified ass bear some responsibility. But you know, at some point the individual has to raise his hand and say, “Whoa! This is getting over my head, I need some help!” We can’t leave it solely with others to guess.

                  Hell, Except in very particular circumstances, and by default, we even make “amateur” drivers responsible for their vehicles, not increasingly remote actors in the chain of causality. Whether you feel like truckers get proper respect from the rest of corporate America or society writ large, I don’t believe that changes the essential calculus that apportions highest responsibility to those primary actors directly involved in a situation, with the most knowledge of it, and most able to affect its trajectory.

                  One sort of personal coda to this is that I am really out off by the driver’s apparent persistent expectation that all he deserved for this horrible accident that he caused us a little traffic ticket. I hasten to add that I can’t know how I would react to such a scene of carnage created by an out-of-control truck missile I was nominally driving, but I do hope that I would feel at my core a heavy sense of responsibility that I couldnt or didn’t do things differently, and I dare say that I would be chastened and shamed and that justice likely required my contrition and some level of punishment beyond a piddling ticket. I’d almost want to punish him just for his brazen disregard of the pain and anguish he caused.

        3. With your windscreen caked opaque with magnesium chloride and your windshield wiper fluid frozen.

        4. The first time for him to show his remorse for his extended train of of grossly reckless actions that would kill four innocent people was when he had the opportunity to risk his own life driving off the road. You'll notice he didn't take that option.

          The second time for him to show his remorse was by committing suicide in grief and shame for his extended train of of grossly reckless actions that killed four innocent people. You'll notice he didn't take that option either.

          The third time for him to show his remorse was pleading guilty, with or without a deal, to the extended train of grossly reckless actions that killed four innocent people he indisputably committed. You'll notice he didn't couldn't even manage that much.

          This entirely remorseless killer should never take another free breath.

          1. Okay, tankie.

  5. Part of what pisses me off here is the lack of detail. Was he just a lousy driver? Did he know his brakes were failing and keep on trucking? Was he speeding to make up time or was the truck really out of control?

    I suspect we don't get those details because the last few times we've gotten sob stories about some bad guy rotting in jail, it's been a truly bad guy convicted under shaky law, like an accomplice who murdered a store clerk and this guy didn't pull the trigger, so the author gets a lot of flak. Solution: don't write up those details, keep it to the sob story itself.

    Even then, 110 years is crazy. Murderers in Chicago get $500 or $1000 a month to not do it again, and do it again, and probably get a raise to double pinky swear to never do it again again. What a fucked up world.

    C'mon, Reason man, do some actual reporting! Tell us the details.

    1. Replied to your comment higher up. It's shockingly hard to find stories about the case because the Narrative about mandatory sentencing has taken over, but search for stories about his testimony. That's where you can read about a few things that came out at trial.

      The jury didn't find this guy guilty for shallow reasons.

      1. Yep, and Reason is playing that "push the sob story" narrative. This is a really stupid way to push for criminal justice reform. All this obfuscation does is make me doubt the next sob story even more.

        C'mon, Billy, you can find more worthy sob stories. I'm just about ready to call these stories false flag operations to work against criminal justice reform.

      2. " It's shockingly hard to find stories about the case"

        Not true, I read it about those details in the NYT and WaPo this week. Granted, if you get your 'news' from Fox or Breitbart, well, they're too worried covering CRT and inflation of twinkies.

        1. Nationwide problems do seem like more of a concern then what is, ultimately, a completely local story.

          But, hey, YMMV.

    2. It's hard to understand this situation without knowing the geography of where this happened. I-70 coming out of the Colorado mountains has a HUGE, steep graded hill ( I think it's something like a 6-7% grade) going from the Genessee/Lookout Mountain area in to Golden. Because of this, there's a runaway truck ramp about halfway down the hill for truckers whose brakes burn out and collapse.

      Basically, his brakes went out on the hill and he passed the runaway truck ramp, which is what caused the massive crash and fireball when he got to the bottom. I-70's a heavily traveled corridor for truckers, so any veteran would know about that ramp, but if he hadn't been driving for that long, he was probably panicking and he missed the ramp as a result.

      1. There are several times during the last few years construction that the runaway ramps in that section were closed or blocked by work crews.

        1. Want to know what's really infuriating? There's been about a million new arrivals to the Denver metro area alone in the last ten years, and the goddamn neoyuppie lefty activists are arguing that road development funds to accomodate all the extra people should be redirected for mass transit that's only used during rush hour and fucking bike lanes.

          They're too stupid to realize that all that construction is going to tear up a lot of neighborhoods anyway, and it won't solve the problem of all the extra fucking cars on the road.

          1. I remember when Romer decided in the 90s that Colorado wouldn't build anymore roads, because then people would use them. Misguided environmentalism.

            20 years later I70 and I25 look basically the same, except now everyone spends 4x as long in thier cars.

    3. Part of what pisses me off here is the lack of detail. Was he just a lousy driver? Did he know his brakes were failing and keep on trucking? Was he speeding to make up time or was the truck really out of control?

      It's pretty clear what was happening. He started off the trip with brakes that were already not in the best conditions. He knew that and took the job anyway.

      When he got on the downhill, the brakes failed; this is probably because he wasn't familiar with mountain driving. This was his second mistake. He should have pulled over right away at the first sign of trouble.

      With failed brakes, he exceeded the speed limit and started weaving around other cars. At that point, he should have taken emergency ramps, which are there precisely to prevent these kinds of accidents. He knew about them, he saw them, and he chose to pass them, multiple times. This is his third bad choice, and his most serious one.

      Even then, 110 years is crazy.

      It's harsh, but I don't think it's "crazy". The main purpose of a judgment in this case is deterrence, because many truck drivers may be tempted to make similar choices. Severe penalties send the message that truck drivers must use the emergency ramps at any cost, or face decades in prison. Having said that, I think 30 years would be sufficient for deterrence.

      The fact that the driver didn't acknowledge his guilt and responsibility and thought he could get away with a traffic ticket also shows how important it is for the legal system to communicate that his behavior will be punished severely.

      1. It's not clear in this article, which seemingly goes out of its way to elide that part while laying on the sob story with a trowel.

      2. Most of this has been addressed elsewhere in the comments, but I can add a bit of personal perspective.
        I am not a professional trucker, but I am a rancher in Colorado, and spend quite a bit of time driving big diesel rigs in the mountains.
        Probably the key skill when driving a loaded truck in the mountains is careful conservation of brakes. If you ride the brakes or allow the vehicle to overspeed, You will absolutely burn out the brakes. Maybe on the first hill.
        Instead, you use the engine brake, which uses the engine to slow the truck down, and you supplement that with light braking. Engaging the engine brake usually just means flipping a switch as you start the descent.
        This is such a basic and fundamental part of driving a truck in the mountains that there is really no excuse for not doing it.
        If circumstances put you in a situation where you cannot slow your descent, you pull into the runaway truck lane, which usually has gravel or dirt that will bring you to a safe stop.
        Worst case, you pull into the grass, which will also tend to slow you down.
        What you just don't do, is steer the truck into a bunch of occupied cars. They are little, and you are big. Even if you swerve off the road into some railings or barricades, your chances are pretty good, because you are in a huge truck.
        There was a point, before he started that descent, when he had the truck stopped, and was examining the brakes. He had likely already overused them to the point where the truck was unsafe.

        He had lots of chances to keep from killing those people, but he just kept ignoring them. He made the wrong decision over and over again.
        One of the details not released is the status of his commercial license, and what endorsements he might have.
        But any person with a Colorado CDL has been tested on these basic safe driving practices. Here is one key sentence from the CDL handbook- "You must use the braking effect
        of the engine as the principal way of controlling your speed
        on downgrades."
        There are also several pages specifically addressing ways to safely resolve the situation he found himself in.
        If he had the CDL, then why did he not know the fundamentals of mountain driving? If he did not, then why was he hired? Either way, it would be normal to be checked out in the truck type he would be driving. Someone observed his driving, and approved him.

        Beyond this, he lied in court about what happened, and there were witnesses who directly contradicted him.

        1. His CDL was in Texas, for the record. He had never driven in mountains. But Texas CDL permits do have an entire section dedicated to explaining mountain driving and what to do on a downgrade, I just checked the manual. So it's not like he wasn't required to know about mountains based on his permit.

          1. I'd add to that that Texas has CDL manuals, forms, and tests in Spanish.

  6. That was bad, but what was really fucked up is that the DA gifted the trial prosecutor with a goddamn "brake" trophy a couple days ago.

    Pretty much every person involved in this deserves to be put through a woodchipper. Hopefully Polis does the right thing here and grants clemency.

    1. That's callous, sure, but I can't call it THE fucked-up thing here. The DAs didn't kill anyone, the driver did. That's the fucked-up part.

      1. The DAs didn't kill anyone, the driver did.

        DAs sentenced someone to die in a cage. Close enough for government work.

        1. The DAs didn't sentence them, they brought charges based on the criminal offenses committed by the defendant, in front of a jury of his peers, with a nominally unbiased judge overseeing the proceedings while the Defendant was represented by council. He got his day in court and was found guilty of depriving others of life and limb through his actions.

          That actually IS an appropriate role of the state.

          1. Semantics. They celebrated when they knew the guy would die in prison. Brake trophy. Sick mother fuckers. They caused it by overcharging in order to secure a plea. And they punished him with death for not taking it.

            1. They caused it by overcharging in order to secure a plea.

              How exactly do you think they "overcharged"? The charges against him are accurate as far as I can tell.

              1. I'm not a lawyer, nor do I pretend to be one on tv.

                The point of the article is that there are so many laws that prosecutors avoid trial by giving people a choice between a plea (something reasonable that they should have been charged with anyway) or going to court and facing a punishment that does not fit the crime.

                1. Yes, but the article is wrong. The actual charges in court were the correct charges.

                  The plea bargain the DA proposed would have resulted in undercharging the defendant, perhaps because the DA felt sympathy for him, wanted to avoid a case involving a Hispanic immigrant, and/or other reasons.

                  1. When the punishment doesn't fit the crime, what you call undercharging is more like fitting the punishment to the crime. Not the charges.

                    1. The charges are based on the elements of the crime. The penalties are based on what the legislature believed to be appropriate.

                      It's not the prosecutor's job to second guess the legislature.

        2. I'd argue that the plea bargain should be relevant in a criminal trial. If the DA was willing to give him a lower sentence, they should be required to explain why a much higher sentence is required if the defendant simply wants to go to trial.

          It, to me, is hard to claim "We HAVE to do this" if you will happily go lower for an easier process.

  7. Whenever you hear a narrative or see a headline that just seems completely out of bounds, dig just a bit deeper. If the headlines are saying someone was sentenced to 110 years for a traffic accident, maybe dig just a bit beyond the headline. Don't get suckered into another Michael Brown situation where an officer shot an innocent little boy (remember the pictures of him attached to every article?!) who had his hands up.

    1. Exactly why those two questions.
      This article and others simply ignores any evidence which might suggest the driver shares some liability here.
      It is possible he was indeed blameless, but if you hope to gain my sympathy for that view, let's see some context.
      Thanks for your answers.

  8. Whatever happened to mens rea?

    (Oh, and anyone can be Tulpa now. He's figured out how to duplicate screen names again)

    1. You mean the intent to keep on driving with smoking brakes?

      The intent to pass the runaway truck ramps?

      Or some other kind of mens rea?

      Don't play dumb. Your comment was posted long after A Thinking Mind posted a length description.

      Or maybe you just are dumb and it's not play-acting.

      1. "..Or maybe you just are dumb and it's not play-acting."

        Dunno which shitpile's getting the benefit of your response, but assume stupidity; every time I've checked, it was true.

    2. Mens rea refers to intent to commit to the predicate action. If you get drunk and then decide to drive a vehicle, you are guilty of vehicular homicide for killing someone even though your intent was not to kill anyone. Your intent was to drive while impaired, you didn't do that on accident.

      Likewise, even if your intent is just to drive, if you are reckless and ignoring warnings that your brakes are failing and ignoring opportunities to avoid an accident (by taking a run-away ramp) and risking lives by hoping there's no congestion further downslope, you've got the mens rea necessary for vehicular manslaughter when your reckless actions cause a death. You didn't accidently or mistakenly drive the car.

      If you simply have a bottle of water while driving and someone spiked your bottle of water with barbiturates, you are not guilty of driving while impaired because you didn't intend to take drugs; though if you continued to drive after awareness of being impaired, you're once again guilty.

      1. What you say is based upon the premise that he intentionally avoided the ramp. I don't think that premise can be proven.

        1. That's the other part of it, too--did he panic and just miss it because he was freaking out? Was he in the middle or left lane, and couldn't get over because there were Boomers driving 50 miles an hour down one of the steepest graded hills on I-70? Was he honking his horn the whole time, trying to chase people out of the way before he hit the bottom of the hill?

          Like I posted below, I don't have an issue with him getting 30-40 years because he shouldn't have been driving that truck to begin with if his brakes were going out, especially if they were smoking prior to them failing.

          1. I don't even want to speculate on the sentence. I think what he did has hurt him more than anything being locked in a cage could do. Talk about remorse. I haven't seen someone that sorry in a long time. He'll beat himself up for the rest of his life.

            1. He hasn't even accepted responsibility yet. It seems like he is dealing with this by pretending that it was an act of God.

        2. What you say is based upon the premise that he intentionally avoided the ramp. I don't think that premise can be proven.

          He understood the purpose of the ramps. He had multiple opportunities to take the ramp (as shown by video evidence) and he lied about it. It's pretty clear that he intentionally avoided it, otherwise he wouldn't have lied about it.

          If he really didn't know what they were for or couldn't handle it, then his "mens rea" shifts to obtaining his CDL by fraud, because part of the CDL is understanding all these things. Different causal chain, same guilt.

          The likely reason he chose not to take the ramps is because it would have ruined him financially. And truck drivers need to be strongly deterred from making that choice.

          1. Not when the choice is to drive down the mountain with failed brakes (speaking in general, here). Now if the driver knew there was something wrong with the brakes before he took off, then yes.

    3. Dude, you begged me to mute you. There is a Show username button you know. So fuck you. I'm not reading nor replying to anything you post. You begged me to mute you. All I ask is that you stop replying to my posts. Fair?

      1. That was to Alphabetroll.

        1. No shit sherlock.

      2. You have promised me many many times that you would stop responding to you. Yet you continue to prove the worth of my trolling you, and I will continue to do so even if you do stop responding to my trolls, or until I find a more worthy subject.

        1. turd's always a good candidate.

    4. Whatever happened to mens rea?

      He made multiple, deliberate choices to place other drivers at risk with his 40t truck. That's what he was charged with, that's what the evidence showed, and that is what he was convicted of. If he had been convicted of premeditated murder, he'd be facing several life sentences, not 110 years.

      And the point of a harsh verdict in cases like this is to deter other truck drivers from making the same choices.

      Deterrence may not work well against psychopaths and murderers, but otherwise law abiding truck drivers will get this message and make the correct choice to take the emergency ramp next time.

      1. You keep using the word "deliberate" which is the opposite of "mistake."

        1. Yeah, there's some interesting lines between purposefully, knowingly, recklessly and negligently (the four MPC mens rea).

        2. The driver knew the purpose of the emergency ramps and the risk resulting from not using them. He weighed the 5% risk of a serious accident from bypassing them against the 100% certainty of financial ruin from taking them. This was a deliberate and callous choice on his part.

          And to make sure that other truck drivers don't make the same choice, the penalty for that choice needs to be severe, in particular when an accident actually happens.

          1. "...He weighed the 5% risk of a serious accident from bypassing them against the 100% certainty of financial ruin from taking them..."

            Don't have a cite at hand, but some states' charges for re-grading the traps are purposely kept low to encourage OO's to use them; to reduce this sort of foolishness. So financial ruin might not have been a threat.
            But he was driving as an employee (I believe), so a pink-slip was a good possibility, especially after he 'checked' the brakes prior to the descent, and then continued.

  9. Related - Watch courthouse footage of a man’s own court-appointed lawyer conspire with the judge, prosecutor and and other court staff to lock him up unjustly because they were mad he rejected a plea deal.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVPCgNMOOP0

    This is pure evil.

    1. I'm sure if he gets back in office Mr. 'be sure not to hit the suspect's head into the car when they get in' Trump will solve all that evil, amirite ML?

      1. These are state and local issues. The federal government should stay out of it.

    2. Pure evil. I've said it many times before, as bad as dirty cops are, dirty prosecutors and dirty judges are far worse. Dirty cops deserve to be raped to death in prison, dirty prosecutors and dirty judges deserve to be kept on life support while they're repeatedly raped nearly to death in prison.

  10. Based on many of the comments above, this driver sounds like a bad lad. Certainly a severe sentence would be called for, so even if they clip a few decades off let enough years remain to show that this is a real crime.

    I'm interested in the role the trucking company played in this. Maybe they bear no responsibility and maybe they do. I bet the families of the victims are getting advice on that very question.

    1. I'm fine with 30-40 years. 110 years is not justice in any sense of the word, and if they didn't go after the trucking company also, if the company didn't tell him to stay off the fucking road when his brakes were dying, or putting him in a truck with bad brakes to begin with, then that's just as fucked up.

      1. I'm fine with 30-40 years. 110 years is not justice in any sense of the word

        I think 30-40 years is fine, but I think 110 years is also acceptable. I think you underestimate the severity of his misconduct and lack of remorse.

        and if they didn't go after the trucking company also, if the company didn't tell him to stay off the fucking road when his brakes were dying, or putting him in a truck with bad brakes to begin with, then that's just as fucked up.

        The CDL holders at a company are the ones responsible for making those decisions, not the accountants or the CEOs or anybody else's. He was a commercial, licensed driver and hence responsible for brakes, routes, etc. That is why penalties for CDL holders are so high when they screw up like this.

        1. The CDL holders at a company are the ones responsible for making those decisions, not the accountants or the CEOs or anybody else's.

          You do realize that a trucking company is a lot more than just bean counters, right?

          1. You do realize that a trucking company is a lot more than just bean counters, right?

            Well, they certainly can be. But they don't have to be.

            So, what other job category at a trucking company, other than the CDL holders themselves, is actually qualified and able to determine whether a specific route is safe, whether the road conditions are acceptable, whether the brakes of the truck are in working conditions for the duration of the trip?

    2. "this driver sounds like a bad lad"

      Yeah, but maybe only in the Lord Jim sense. I'd like to distinguish between 'panicked, selfish coward' and murderer, but if it were my family member among the several killed perhaps I'd feel differently...

      I'd also say this. I see people tossing around 110 or 30 years...Perhaps I'm imagining things wrong but I think *5* years in a prison would be a very, very, very harsh thing to serve.

      1. I'd like to distinguish between 'panicked, selfish coward' and murderer,

        The law does distinguish that. If this had been premeditated murder, he would have gotten multiple life sentences. Instead, he only got multiple shorter sentences, which add up to 110 years.

        Perhaps I'm imagining things wrong but I think *5* years in a prison would be a very, very, very harsh thing to serve.

        He did a very, very, very selfish thing and destroyed many lives. And his sentence needs to serve as a strong deterrent to other truck drivers because the temptation to bypass emergency ramps for truckers is too high otherwise.

        His crime is worse than a deadly DUI. That's why he should get at least 30 years.

      2. His actions led to death. 5 years is far too short. Even if it was an accident, he was involved in the insanely poor decision making.

    3. "I'm interested in the role the trucking company played in this."

      Yeah, me too.

  11. The whole concept of plea bargaining is one of the many things about criminal justice that strikes me as not just unjust, not just odd, but totally freakin' bizarre. Who's bargaining over what? Who owns what to be bargained?

    1. Do you think that defendants who show remorse and who are likely to be rehabilitated should receive lesser sentences? Then plea bargaining makes sense to some degree: in a plea bargain, the defendant admits guilt, shows remorse, and as a result gets a lesser sentence.

      What doesn't make sense is plea bargains that circumvent minimum sentencing guidelines or in which "charges get dropped".

      1. But I don't think a plea bargain is a show of remorse, it's just a bargain.

        1. The refusal of a plea bargain shows an absence of remorse.

          As in this case, where the defendant believed that he was guilty of no more than a traffic ticket, and where the defendant still hasn't accepted his guilt or responsibility.

  12. OK so why did the DA pile on so many charges? She didn't have to. I mean what would it have been if he was convicted on all charges? 300 years? Was that really necassary? The DA is a bitch.

    1. Got a cite for that claim? Nothing in the article says anything of the sort.

      1. What claim?

        1. "OK so why did the DA pile on so many charges?"

          THAT claim, bozo.

          1. That's a question not a claim. Why would I need a cite when the article says she filed 42 charges?

            1. OK, you wish to prove you're a stupid pile of shit? Fine: *bing*

              1. Ad hominem.

    2. OK so why did the DA pile on so many charges? She didn't have to.

      Well, she "didn't have to" in that DA's frequently arbitrarily pick and choose to ignore crimes. But that's not how a country built on laws ought to operate.

      If you look at the list of charges, they are all reasonable and distinct. The reason they added up to such a long term is because that is what the legislature decreed.

      1. So you oppose her efforts to lower the sentence?

        1. No, I don't oppose her efforts. I think the legislature went a bit overboard in their minimum sentencing guidelines.

          Sentencing needs to be based on public safety, deterrence, and some degree of internal consistency. My guess is that his sentence should probably a bit higher than a DUI with multiple fatalities, probably around 30 years to be consistent and to act as a deterrent to other truck drivers tempted to avoid emergency ramps.

      2. 42 charges for one criminal act.

        That’s not justice. That’s just 42 different ways to describe what he did.

        1. "42 charges for one criminal act."

          Was that "one criminal act" ignoring the condition of the brakes? Passing the run-offs? Causing the deaths of four people? Injuring many more?
          Please tell us which "one criminal act" you claim.

          1. But surely 4 counts of "careless driving causing death" and a count of "reckless driving" on top of the 4 counts of "vehicular homicide" (which already requires the driver to have been reckless) is excessive? And surely the sentences should run concurrently and not consecutively for most of this stuff. It's not like vehicular homicide is a slap on the wrist by itself.

            1. So no answer, just 'feelz'. Bzzt!

            2. This is an 82000lb+ vehicle that you need to take a much more stringent test in order to drive on the roads, not a car or truck. He had pulled over and stopped on the side of the road earlier on the route, purportedly for a different reason, but multiple witnesses to that incident state that the brakes had been smoking and you could clearly smell them and that he was checking them and calling people. So he chose to continue the route with possibly faulty brakes, not keep the truck in low gear with the engine brake engaged, and take it very slow down the mountain. Not excessive.

            3. Many cars now use alloy aluminum sheet/plate for lightweight bodies, which are also very strong.
              https://www.tigersalu.com/products/aluminum-sheet-plate/

        2. Commonly, each illegal act, injury or death is listed separately. That's what "charges" means. I don't see the problem with that.

          Usually, judges have a lot of discretion by allowing sentences for multiple charges to be concurrent. The judge would have done that in this case as well, it's just the legislature removed his discretion.

          1. But the DA doesn't have to bring any charges. So why did she in this case when she's now trying to get the sentence reduced?

            1. But the DA doesn't have to bring any charges.

              I disagree. The job of a DA is to charge criminals with each and every crime they have actually committed and they can prove.

              They can get away with undercharging defendants by falsely claiming that they don't think they can prove something, but that is not how the legal system ought to work.

          2. First, it is insane to think a judge's discretion is superior to a legislative consistent manner of sentencing.
            Second, it is twisted to say that the DA penalized this guy for not taking a plea deal. If you give someone an opportunity to get a bargain and they reject it then they are going to pay full price. The point of a plea deal is a guilty party gets a lesser sentence than they would if they get convicted in court. Duh.
            Third, nothing I have read makes me feel sorry for this guy. He took 4 lives. He was arrogant and thought he could do better with a jury than the plea deal which sounds like the exact wrong reasoning that caused him to kill four people.
            Fourth, if it were my child or spouse or even friend who was killed due to this brazen arrogant recklessness I am certain I would want him to suffer the same fate, he deprived people of life, he is this deprived of his by having to spend it in prison. Seems like the most just outcome.

            1. Yeah, so? Why are you telling me? I simply explained how charges work. If you read my other comments, you'll see that I strongly disagree with either the DA or the judge overriding the minimum sentencing guidelines as passed by the legislature.

              DAs should charge everything they can prove in a court of law, juries should verify those charges, and judges should sentence subject to legislative sentencing guidelines.

          3. Wow, I had to get this far into the comments to find one that indicates someone actually knows the law!

  13. A jury found Aguilera-Mederos guilty of 27 counts in Oct.:

    Vehicular homicide: 4 counts
    Vehicular assault: 2 counts
    Assault in the first degree – extreme indifference: 6 counts
    Criminal attempt to commit assault in the first degree: 10 counts
    Reckless driving: 1 count
    Careless driving causing death: 4 counts

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

    I'd argue that 4 charges of careless driving causing death is excessive; he only carelessly drove causing death once (it resulted in 4 deaths, but that's not the same thing.) It's also redundant with the vehicular homicide, as I don't think there's a way to commit vehicular homicide without also being guilty of careless driving causing death. And then reckless driving on top of the careless driving! The driving was either careless or reckless; pick one.

    All 25 counts of "attempted" assault are overcharging; the Colorado assault statute may include conduct indifferent to human life, but you cannot attempt to be indifferent. (What does that even represent - the people he *didn't* hurt? If you charge that and then turn around and say the minimum sentence was excessive but there was nothing you could do, you're a stupid person.) And is there a particular reason why some of the assaults are vehicular and some are first-degree? Please tell me they aren't the same assaults charged twice.

    1. "I'd argue that 4 charges of careless driving causing death is excessive; he only carelessly drove causing death once (it resulted in 4 deaths, but that's not the same thing.)"

      So a thug mowing down 10 people with a semi-auto weapon should be charged with only one, cause the other nine were just in the line of fire? Sorry, try again when sober.
      4 people died as a result of his negligence; the families, friends, lovers of four people are left to grieve.
      Further, if the intent of the process is to prevent future such episodes, it will serve as a warning against driving into a crowd of a hundred in order to save your sorry ass,

      1. I'd leave the 4 counts of vehicular homicide. I just wouldn't put redundant reckless/careless driving charges on top of that, and wouldn't charge an 25 counts of an "attempt" of something done recklessly rather than intentionally.

        The thug with a semi-auto weapon who mows down 10 people should be charged with 10 counts of murder. But he shouldn't be charged with 20 counts of murder for those 10 dead because he fired 20 bullets into them, plus 20 counts of assault with a deadly weapon, plus an attempted murder charge for each of the 25 bullets that missed. The 10 murder charges should suffice.

        1. Logic, what is it?

        2. I'd leave the 4 counts of vehicular homicide. I just wouldn't put redundant reckless/careless driving charges on top of that, and wouldn't charge an 25 counts of an "attempt" of something done recklessly rather than intentionally.

          So the defendant appeals his vehicular homicide conviction and the appeals court reverses his conviction. For example, the court might rule that the defendant was responsible for the accident and injuries, that he was driving recklessly, but that the actual deaths were caused by some other factor.

          So what happens now? Does the guy go free? Do you hold a new trial? Does the appeals court just fabricate new charges out of thin air and then impose a new sentence?

          The way the US system handles this with multiple overlapping charges, the issue is immediately resolved: the sentence automatically reduces to the lesser charges that he was found guilty of, as if the original court had just sentenced him on the lesser charges.

          1. I'm certainly not an expert in Colorado sentencing law. But something went wrong here. The guy deserves prison for killing people? OK, but not 110 years. Let's dig into where the bulk of these sentences are coming from.

            Vehicular homicide is a class 4 felony. That ordinarily has a sentence of 2-6 years. Vehicular assault is a class 5 felony, which has a sentence of 1-3 years. But first-degree assault is a class 3 felony. This has a sentence of 4-12 years. Attempted first-degree assault is a class 4 felony, which again has a 2-6 year sentence.

            Keep in mind also that first degree assault is a "crime of violence" which means that they cannot be sentenced below the midpoint of the range - and, by the way, the maximum sentence is increased, so the midpoint is higher. Now it's 4-16 years for those first-degree assaults, so the midpoint is 10. 10 years each, minimum, for each of those 6 charges. That's 60 years just for the first-degree assaults (not even counting the ridiculous "attempted" first-degree assaults.) Those all should have been vehicular assaults at 1-3 years; that charging decision alone accounts for about half the sentence.

            1. So... 60 years for the first-degree assaults. 8 years, minimum, for the vehicular homicides (assuming they don't count as a violent crime.) 2 years minimum for the 2 vehicular assaults. The reckless and careless driving are actually misdemeanors and probably have no real minimum sentence; let's not even count those. We're at 70 years... the remaining 40 must be from those ten attempted first-degree assault convictions? 4 years each? I'm not sure if those count as "crimes of violence" that require a sentence at least at the midpoint, but the math would seem to check out for that.
              So I think about, oh, 100 years of that sentence was just the prosecutor's first-degree assault and attempted first-degree assault charges, which should have been vehicular assault and nothing, respectively. Changing the first-degree assault to vehicular assault and the "attempts" to nothing would be the start of a reasonable sentence.

              1. Whatever the prosecutor charges, he must prove each of the elements constituting each charge.

                Twelve people concluded that he did that for "attempted first-degree assault", after listening to days of testimony. If the prosecutor proved all the elements of the charge to the satisfaction of the jury, how did he "overcharge"?

                We know that the jury didn't just rubber stamp his charges. First, many in the jury believe that the sentence is too long. Second, they found the defendant not guilty on some of the charges.

          2. The problem isn't that lesser charges were added in case the jury didn't convict on the vehicular homicide charges, or these were overturned later. The problem is mandatory stacking of the sentences for many, many charges that were all included in the homicide charges. The guy should have been sentenced to 4 consecutive 2-6 year sentences for vehicular homicide, and everything else to run consecutively, because they were not separate crimes.

    2. I'd argue that 4 charges of careless driving causing death is excessive; he only carelessly drove causing death once (it resulted in 4 deaths, but that's not the same thing.)

      The way the US legal system deals with this is for the judge to let sentences for overlapping charges be served concurrently. This is also done so that if an appeals court repeals only the more serious charges, the criminal still stays in prison on the lesser charges. It seems pretty straightforward and logical to me.

      What problem do you see with this approach? How would you do it differently?

      1. The thing is that Colorado doesn't allow for judges to have sentences served concurrently instead of consecutively. That's a problem with the Colorado legislature, though, and how they've chosen to punish criminals.

        I'm willing to believe there's an overcharge here based on redundant charges even though I think this guy deserves 40 years.

        1. In fact, the opposite seems to be true:

          Statute C.R.S. 18-1-408 requires a trial court to impose concurrent sentences for offenses committed against one victim when the different charged counts are based on the same act or series of acts arising from the same criminal event and the evidence behind the different counts is identical. Where more than one victim is involved, the court may still impose consecutive sentences.

          My guess (and it's only a guess) is that the legislature imposed the requirement that multiple counts of vehicular homicide and injury against different people must be served consecutively, probably in order to deter drunk driving and texting while driving.

          The statute seems to have worked as intended: you kill/injure a lot of people with your driving and you are sent away for a long time. It remains to be seen whether the legislature has buyer's remorse or whether the governor grants commutation.

          1. On inspection, the careless and reckless driving charges seem to be misdemeanors (yes, even the careless driving causing death.) They're no more than a rounding error in this case, so it doesn't really matter whether *those* charges are consecutive or not. It's all the first-degree assault charges (and attempted first-degree assault charges) that are the problem. They have a perfectly good vehicular assault charge which perhaps gives a more appropriate sentence for the level of culpability involved with a preventable accident.

            1. On inspection, the careless and reckless driving charges seem to be misdemeanors (yes, even the careless driving causing death.) They're no more than a rounding error in this case, so it doesn't really matter whether *those* charges are consecutive or not.

              Which is why I didn't even talk about them.

              It's all the first-degree assault charges (and attempted first-degree assault charges) that are the problem. They have a perfectly good vehicular assault charge which perhaps gives a more appropriate sentence for the level of culpability involved with a preventable accident.

              Perhaps. But the prosecutor proved all the elements of each of those charges to the satisfaction of twelve jurors. So, why should the driver not have been charged with a crime whose elements the prosecutor proved?

              If the sentence for these crimes is excessive, that's something the legislature needs to address. Leaving this up to judges and prosecutors leads to arbitrary enforcement and corrodes the rule of law.

              1. why should the driver not have been charged with a crime whose elements the prosecutor proved?

                Why? Because the judge thought the resulting sentence was excessive. Because the jury thought the resulting sentence was excessive. Because even the prosecutor believed the resulting sentence was excessive. Because there was a more appropriate charge. Because it rather ridiculously resulted in the driver getting less time for the people he killed than the people he injured. Because it ludicrously resulted in the driver getting less time for the people he killed than for the people he didn't even injure. The driver could have killed nobody and the sentence would still have been 100 years. The driver could have killed nobody and injured nobody and the sentence would still have been 100 years if the jury had convicted on just all those "attempt" charges instead of acquitting him on 15 of them. That's why. You don't bring charges if the result is going to be unjust.

                Leaving this up to judges and prosecutors leads to arbitrary enforcement and corrodes the rule of law.

                But it's left up to the prosecutors anyway! They literally wanted to make a deal; he only got this because he insisted on his right to a trial! Nobody can force a prosecutor to bring charges. Nobody would have batted an eye if the prosecutor had brought 4 charges of vehicular homicide and 8 charges of vehicular assault and maybe some of the misdemeanor charges and left it at that. That's still a 16 year minimum, and it's much less likely that he'd get the minimum if the result wasn't so obviously excessive.

                It's quite a take to say that leaving sentencing up to a judge corrodes the rule of law; that's ordinarily how it's done. Even at the federal level where they have all those sentencing guidelines, a judge is allowed to depart from the guidelines if they have a good reason. In any case, I'd much rather the judges have discretion than the prosecutors.

                Perhaps. But the prosecutor proved all the elements of each of those charges to the satisfaction of twelve jurors. So, why should the driver not have been charged with a crime whose elements the prosecutor proved?

                If that's going to be the benchmark, then I guess they did in fact overcharge - after all, the jury acquitted on 15 of the charges (with a minimum of 60 years on those acquitted charges alone), so clearly the prosecutor was inappropriately bringing charges they couldn't prove.

                Of course the jury isn't infallible, but that runs in both directions.

  14. We, as libertarians, need to take a look at the larger picture here. At the very least, we've got sarcasmic (I don't care which one) and Queen Amalthea firmly in the "He was just negligent and shouldn't be responsible for the deaths he directly caused." camp. Which is good because now they can cram it right up their own asses when going off about the unmasked and unvaxxed increasing people's marginal risk of COVID by going to the grocery store or work or school without knowingly having COVID.

    Aguilera-Mederos negligently killed 4 people. Deny him access to healthcare for the rest of his life! Paramedics should wait for the court's decision on any given car crash before treating the injured! MUH PUBLIC COMMUNZ! MUH PUNISHMENT FUR MARJINUL RISK!

    1. In a libertarian society, Aguilera-Mederos would indeed not go to prison at all.

      Instead, he would be stripped of all his property until he has paid off the damage he caused, exiled from most of society, and effectively declared an outlaw. That would likely be worse than even US prison.

      Since you mention "the unmasked and the unvaxxed", they would simply go about their businesses in communities and businesses where people don't care.

      Does that help you understand libertarianism?

      1. Since you mention "the unmasked and the unvaxxed", they would simply go about their businesses in communities and businesses where people don't care.

        Does that help you understand libertarianism?

        I understand libertarian society. I'm talking about a society where we throw women and children off airplanes because the kids won't wear masks. That society has a different set of rules than libertarian society and the enforcement between Aguilera-Mederos and people going to grocery stores seems exceedingly capricious and, for members of sarcasmics "I totally don't have a tribe", self-serving.

        1. That society has a different set of rules than libertarian society and the enforcement between Aguilera-Mederos and people going to grocery stores seems exceedingly capricious

          I don't see what you are getting at.

          Aguilera-Mederos would be worse off in an actual libertarian society than he is under US laws even with his 110 year sentence.

          On the other hand, people who don't wear masks would be better off in a libertarian society than they are in the US.

          1. I don't see what you are getting at.

            Someone arguing that mask mandates, vaccine mandates, or testing mandates should be implemented may be a humanitarian, but not a libertarian.

            Someone arguing that Aguilera-Mederos should be charged with a lesser crime or given a lesser punishment despite the law may be a libertarian, but not a humanitarian.

            No real problem for someone who isn't supporting mask/vaccine/testing mandates or someone not supporting Aguilera-Mederos, putting libertarianism above humanitarianism when no lives are directly lost or humanitarianism above libertarianism when they are, but someone making both arguments together is advancing anti-libertarian ideology for inhumane reasons or an inhumane ideology for anti-libertarian reasons. No specific argument may be either inhumane or anti-libertarian, but their arguments vacillate between anti-libertarian and inhumane.

            Hell, let's make it *real* easy:
            "Children should be masked or forcibly tossed out of airplanes (at the gate), but Darrell Brooks may've just been negligent and didn't deserve more than 40 (or 60 or 300) yrs." Wait until the trolley car careens down the hill, kills the people trapped on the tracks, and *then* push the fat man off the overpass for not wearing a mask.

            It's just fucking evil.

            1. I still don't see what you are getting at.

              As you observe, we don't live in a libertarian society, which makes arguments about whether certain policies are more or less libertarian pointless.

              For example, a libertarian society would not have import tariffs, but that doesn't mean that unilaterally eliminating import tariffs from China necessarily makes us "more libertarian".

              Likewise, in a strictly libertarian society, Aguilera-Mederos would not be imprisoned for a single day or punished "by the state", but he would likely suffer worse than under the 110 year prison term.

              And in a libertarian society, there would be no government mask mandates, but private actors might well force you to mask up more than you are in the US today (and the US is pretty lenient about masks).

              Since we don't live in a libertarian society, I think the analysis of what a libertarian society would do with Aguilera-Mederos is pointless. We have to analyze what makes sense to do with him within the framework of the society and legal system we live in, a society that punishes people by locking them up, in which roads are public property, in which civil judgments can be discharged in bankruptcy, and in which drivers are licensed by the state. Within that totally non-libertarian framework, the obvious non-libertarian conclusion is that he ought to be locked up for several decades.

              1. OK, given the disingenuous of leftists around here, it's getting hard to determine whether you're just a shitbag or a dumbass. I didn't say we live in a libertarian society, you did. Moreover, I acknowledged that there are other ways to run a society but, like a dumbass, you pretend like I'm saying "Since we live in a libertarian society..." which, again, I didn't.

                What is the society that grants leniency to people whose direct actions caused death but enacts and enhances punishments for not knowingly and indirectly marginally increasing someone's risk? Certainly not a libertarian one. Certainly not a humanitarian one. Certainly not a 'just' or 'rule of law' one. I laid it out pretty clearly with the trolley car killing four people and then throwing the fat man off the bridge for not wearing a mask. I'm fairly certain my 8 yr. old could grasp it, why can't you.

                And in a libertarian society, there would be no government mask mandates, but private actors might well force you to mask up more than you are in the US today (and the US is pretty lenient about masks).

                They might, but we don't live in a libertarian society like you said we did. Hur duh herpity doo!

                1. Certainly not a libertarian one. Certainly not a humanitarian one. Certainly not a 'just' or 'rule of law' one.

                  There's even a potential utilitarian case for why Aguilara-Mederos shouldn't be locked up for that long, but no one is making those arguments. Because they aren't making libertarian, humanitarian, utilitarian, or egalitarian or just or rule of law arguments. They want Aguilera-Mederos to get a lesser sentences because it feels bad giving him a harsh sentence. They don't know if 90 or 80 or 77 or 55 yrs. would make them feel better, they just know that 110 makes them feel bad.

  15. Probably Colorado First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King should serve time.

    I'm not saying that the driver is completely innocent of negligence.
    What I am saying that he is a young kid that made a decision that with 20/20 hindsight was wrong. So he made the decision to go to court instead of accepting a plea deal. The very notion of 110 years for an accident even if there was negligence is an insult to justice and sanity.

    Our justice system is less about actual justice and more about winning. Perhaps sending prosecuting lawyers to jail every once in a while will turn them back into humans instead of the cold callous inhumane creatures they become. A bit of a reset is warranted to bring justice back into the justice system.

    1. Jesus Christ, what tripe.

      1. The fact that you do not agree with Uomo does not make his assetions tripe.

        1. When he calls him a young kid who made an honest mistake that you might see with 20/20, hindsight, yes, it’s fucking tripe.

          He was reckless. Reckless to an insane degree. He was reported as a reckless driver before his brakes failed, and they failed because he was riding them until the pads essentially evaporated. He even stopped, pulled over, and inspected his brakes. They needed a couple hours ti cool off but he didn’t want to wait. If he was scared, why not creep down the mountain as slowly as possible with the engine brakes working on full? If he didn’t know how to use engine brakes, he made conscious choices to use something that’s inherently dangerous that he didn’t understand.

          And then after his brakes failed he had runaway ramps. There were other pulloffs. He could have crashed into tons of other barriers on the shoulder. If he had somehow miraculously avoided an accident in this day, it was only a matter of time before his terrible decisions did kill someone.

          I have to wonder if there’s some bigotry of low expectations with this guy. “He’s a poor immigrant, we can’t expect him to deal with adult responsibilities.” Fuck that nonsense. Imagine being stuck in a traffic jam and you have nowhere to go and this guy comes screaming up behind you because he didn’t want to take a runaway ramp, and that’s the last thing you ever see. Imagine being one of those people who screamed in agony for several minutes while burning to death. And then think about this guy sitting at a pull off, stopped, thinking the brakes might be failing, and then making the conscious decision to get back in and keep driving the vehicle.

          1. There was an internet video of a kid (IIRC, 9-ish yrs. old) handling a fully-automatic Uzi at the range. Recoil being what it was, the instructor that handed the kid an Uzi wound up eating a bullet from the gun in the kid's hand. That kid deserves no punishment. Translating to this, the instructor hands 24-yr.-old Aguilera-Mederos the Uzi. The recoil or malfunction causes the gun to runaway from him without anyone being killed. Aguilera-Mederos then puts the gun down, inspects for defects, finds none, reloads the weapon, loses control again, shoots 4 people dead, and injures others. That's not an accidental discharge. Certainly not if Alec Baldwin's shooting wasn't an AD.

    2. HIs failing to accept the plea deal that moron engaged in EXACTLY the same poor judgement that killed 4 people. Arrogant recklessness. Anyone who thinks he is a victim is a fool with no critical thinking skills.

  16. Whether the driver acted irresponsibly or merely incompetently can be debated by partisans till the electrons come home - it is sound and fury signifying very little, because there will be no definitive answer produced by all the sturm und drang.

    The issue of concern here is this D.A., and other D.A.'s, having the ability and willingness to impose a "trial penalty". And this case while receiving quite a bit of publicity is far from the first or only time this iniquity and aberration of justice has occurred. Part of pre-trial filings should included what, if any plea deals have been offered or inducements made to persuade a defendant to plead guilty. The judge should then limit the charges that may be presented to the jury to those included in the plea deal. This may be "inconvenient" for prosecutors, but without this a prosecutor is empowered with a metaphorical rack that would have thrilled Torquemada. (Some may choose not use it, but none should have it!) There are those who would say my position represents a "soft on crime" approach.

    I would respond that those who believe that have never been, nor have they ever had a relative who has been, caught in and ground up by the gears of "justice" being turned by a vindictive, agenda-driven, or overly ambitious prosecutor - the type from whom both the honest citizen, the minor malefactor, and even the actual felon needs protection. Would not the cause of real justice be advanced by such a rule, both in promoting reasonable plea deal offers and protecting defendants from having a draconian trial penalty imposed?

    1. Are you on drugs? Do you understand what a plea deal is? A plea deal is a better deal than is available if one goes through the full court process
      A plea deal is a bargain, if you turn down the bargain you take your chances and may end up paying full price. Pleas are intended to be mutually beneficial. To require the prosecutor to only charge up to the plea offer would decrease the availability of a plea being offered and they wouldn't be as good.
      Everyone who rejects their plea deal should fully expect to get everything and the kitchen sink thrown at them.

      1. It seems like some people think a plea bargain is what the DA actually thinks the person is guilty of and that anything beyond that when taken to trial constitutes a punitive measure on the part of the DA for"inconvenience".
        A metaphor, would be if you use a credit card for a purchase the merchant is not allowed to charge extra to you for using a credit card, however the merchant is allowed to give a cash discount. Either way I get a better deal if I pay cash. No cash and I pay full price. A plea bargain that is made with the prosecutors in order not to go to trial of course benefits the prosecutors and all of the state for not having to spend the money on a trial, but that also benefits the person who's being prosecuted because they're getting a lesser charge and sentence than they would if they went to trial, the fact that somebody then applies all charges when going to trial doesn't make it a punitive measure.

        1. It's either that the plea bargain is what the DA thinks the person is actually guilty of and the other charges are a penalty for going to trial, or the total charges are what the person is guilty of and the plea bargain is a discount for not making the DA do his whole job. How deep of a discount do you think is acceptable? 10%? 25%? Or about 80? In this case I don't know what was offered in the plea bargain, but I would be very surprised if it was as much as 24 years (the maximum for vehicular homicide times 4). There is NO WAY that both 24 years and 110 years can be just sentences

          And I recall a computer "unauthorized access" case where the plea bargain was 6 months and the likely sentence for all charges was 14 years. That's a 96.4% discount for not arguing in court about whether the suspect's actions were actually a crime at all.

          We really, really need to limit how big of a discount can be offered in plea bargains. I'd set this at 25%; if the DA wants to offer 24 years, he has to limit the possible sentence if convicted by a jury to 32 years.

          1. Your discount idea doesn't work because prosecutors don't know the final sentencing.

            I think prosecutors should be required to provide the list of charges ahead of time, and a plea bargain should only be allowed to affect the sentencing within the range the law provides for those charges, whatever that range may be.

      2. No, but your reply suggests you recently bought some really good stuff. Being charged with a crime and going to court should not be an episode of Let's Make a Deal, and courtrooms are supposed to be where truth is sought and justice is dispensed, not where the game is incarceration arbitrage. (Yeah, yeah, I know - that comes from 9th grade Civics, and adults know it's not true.)

        |"Everyone who rejects their plea deal should fully expect to get everything and the kitchen sink thrown at them."| You are indeed a fortunate soul to have so few worries and such infinite faith in "the system".

  17. Consider, there is something of a trolley problem here: he didn’t lose his brakes and instantly crash into those cars; he made many choices on the way down that grade. At any point he could have taken his chances off the road and avoided any risk to others. A 30,000 pound big rig going 85 mph is going to go through cars like they were so many water barrels. I’d like to think that most of us would rather take our (very poor) chances rather than kill and injure so many other people. I think 2.0-30 years is more appropriate, but I’ll lose no sleep if he stays in prison forever.

    1. Consider, there is something of a trolley problem here

      No, there isn't. He could have taken an emergency ramp with no risk to himself other than a steep fine. He chose not to, killed four people, and that's why they threw the book at him.

    2. A 30,000 lb. big rig??? Maybe with a full tank of fuel, some chains and no load whatsoever!!. Were you assuming an empty semi-trailer, or do you have no concept about what a loaded truck weighs?

  18. He refused to accept anything other than a traffic ticket. I wonder why?

    The rhetoric surrounding reform justice- systemic racism, intersectionality, BLM, immigration and the DNCs stage promotion of a multi day torturer- murderer allows young people to honestly believe they can do whatever they want, with no consequence. Why take the plea deal when he seriously thought he would get a traffic ticket- part of the intersectional pyramid.

  19. The guy is a dick for recklessly continuing to drive after stopping to get out and look at his brakes, but that probably makes him guilty of criminal negligence. 110 years for criminal negligence?

    A person who deliberately targets four people and carefully plans and carries out their murder doesn’t get 110 years. So I don’t see how killing four random people through sheer stupidity and irresponsibility would get you a harsher sentence than first-degree murder.

    1. Are you kidding? A person who deliberately targets and murders four people gets the death penalty or multiple life sentences.

      Furthermore, the driver wasn't just negligent, he showed a callous disregard for human life, passing up multiple opportunities to prevent the accident.

  20. "My administration contemplated a significantly different outcome in this case and initiated plea negotiations but Mr. Aguilera-Mederos declined to consider anything other than a traffic ticket"

    I find that hard to believe considering DAs like Alexis King are notorious liars. I do find it odd that fully knowing the potential outcome she is trying to placate the howls of the public to reduce the sentence. It isn't like it will change their mind given we all know how Rudolf Höss's defense plays in public opinion.

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