Trucker Accused in Deadly I-70 Crash Makes “Unprecedented” Offer, Arraignment Delayed
Denver, CO – The trucker facing a mountain of felony charges for his involvement in a fiery 28-vehicle crash along I-70 earlier this year was back in court on Tuesday, but it was what happened outside of the courtroom that has people talking.
Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos was set to be arraigned yesterday where he was expected to plead not guilty to at least 32 charges, including 4 counts of vehicular homicide, stemming from the fiery crash on April 25, 2019 that resulted in the deaths of four people.
However, Aguilera-Mederos’ Denver-based attorney, Robert Corry, requested a continuance in order for the defense to have more time to prepare.
Corry’s request was granted.
The defense may well be trying to avoid a trial altogether.
“We are not giving up on the possibility of resolving the case without a trial,” Corry said during the hearing.
The Cuban-born truck driver is currently residing in Texas after Judge Bradley Burback granted a request by the defense during a hearing in July to allow the defendant to return to Houston with his partner Nailan Gonzalez.
Corry told Judge Burback that Aguilera-Mederos was not a flight risk and posed no danger to the public.
Further, he claimed the truck driver was receiving “threats” while living in Denver under the terms of his release agreement.
Defense Makes “Unprecedented” Offer To Victims’ Families… Or Is It?
Following yesterday’s hearing, Corry met with members of the media outside of the courtroom and made a startling offer.
Corry said Aguilera-Mederos welcomed the opportunity to meet with family members of the victims of the deadly crash as a way to help them find “closure.”
He stipulated that such a meeting would be “completely voluntary” on the part of the victims’ families.
“We can’t bring their loved ones back, but we hope to provide answers,” Corry said during the press conference.
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Corry’s offer stunned many local news outlets and observers of the case.
It even led one reporter with Denver’s Fox31, Rob Low, who claims to have followed high-profile court battles in Colorado for more than twenty years, to call the offer “unprecedented.” But is it really?
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) spoke to the President of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, Jay Tiftickjian, to get his reaction to Corry’s offer.
“This is a common strategy, but out of respect for the families of the deceased and those injured in the crash, it is done quietly and not through the media,” Tiftickjian said.
Tiftickjian explained that under Colorado’s Victim’s Rights Act, “a discussion has to be had with a victim or their families in crimes that are designated to fall under this law.”
So, what’s the legal strategy behind the defense’s offer?
It’s simple, says Tiftickjian.
“What the defense is hoping for is that the families of the alleged victims will push the District Attorney (DA) to see the case in a new light, and be more reasonable with potential dispositions before a trial.”
Tiftickjian has been extremely critical of the DA’s charging of the case.
He told TNN in May that the case was “outrageously overcharged” by the prosecution.
“The public is very upset about this accident and the DA, who is an elected official, is obviously more concerned about his reputation in the community than justice. I think he is trying to use this case as a political platform so that the public sees they are trying to do something about it,” Tiftickjian exclaimed.
Click HERE to read more about why Tiftickjian believes Aguilera-Mederos has a “solid defense.”
The question Corry knows many will be asking is why Aguilera-Mederos chose not to take a clearly marked runaway ramp along I-70 not far from the crash scene.
Witness video of the big rig shows it maneuvering “recklessly” and clearly bypassing the ramp which could have averted the fiery crash.
Some have suggested Aguilera-Mederos could not adequately read English causing him to not realize help was available.
Click HERE to read more about if Aguilera-Mederos can understand English.
Corry said the answer to why Aguilera-Mederos failed to take the ramp is “complicated.”
However, Aguilera-Mederos hopes to have the chance to explain it in more detail to the family members who lost a loved one in the crash.
Corry Says Aguilera-Mederos Is Also A Victim
During his press conference on Tuesday, Corry expressed that Aguilera-Mederos is also a victim of the crash.
“This is a tragic incident for all concerned, including Rogel,” Corry asserted.
“He (Aguilera-Mederos) suffers from PTSD. He still to this day wakes up at night screaming, having nightmares about this horrible, awful vehicle accident.”
Aguilera-Mederos will be back in court on October 10, where he is expected to enter not guilty pleas.
Photo courtesy of Rob Low
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Check out more of TNN’s extensive coverage of this case HERE.