The Colorado prosecutor who was involved in securing a 110-year conviction for a young truck driver who killed four and injured a half-dozen in a fiery crash is being ripped online for handing out a “trophy” from the trial: A brake shoe from the tractor-trailer rig.
The trophy was given to Deputy District Attorney Kayla Wildeman, who posted the now-deleted image of the brake shoe to her Facebook page. Her name and the case number were printed on a placard adorning the brake shoe, according to The Denver Channel.
“Get yourself a trial partner as great as Trevor Moritzky,” she wrote, according to the report, in reference the senior deputy district attorney who worked with her on the trial.
“He turned a brake shoe from a semi-truck into a memento. What a special gift from truly a special person. I never asked for a new bff at work, let alone one that is old enough to be my father (no offense) but I sure am grateful this trial brought you into my career as both a colleague and a friend!” she added. “Words will never convey how lucky I am to have gotten the opportunity to learn from you!”
Rogel Aguilera-Medero, 26, was convicted earlier this month for crashing his semi into cars that were stuck in a traffic jam along I-70 near Lakewood, Colo., on April 25, 2019. The brakes reported failed on the truck Aguilera-Medero, of Houston, was driving, striking around two dozen vehicles including four other tractor-trailers that were stalled in traffic.
He claimed during his trial that his brakes failed, but prosecutors argued he was negligent because he failed to take one of several emergency truck off-ramps to avoid the collision.
The crash caused a massive fireball that burned several cars and semi-trucks. He was sentenced on Dec. 13 to 110 consecutive years in prison on 42 counts including vehicular homicide. Judge A. Bruce Jones noted that his hands were tied by state mandatory sentencing laws, though he gave Aguilera-Medero the minimum on each of the counts.
First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King noted in a statement that the Facebook post was in “very poor taste,” while adding the brake shoe actually was not related to Aguilera-Medero’s case.
The post “does not reflect the values of my administration,” King wrote, according to The Denver Channel reported. “We have addressed it internally.”
James Colgan, Aguilera-Mederos’ attorney, called the trophy and post “unprofessional.”
“Lives are ruined all around and they celebrate,” he said Monday, according to the Denver Post.
Leonard Martinez, another defense attorney, said disciplinary action is in order.
“To make any kind of mockery or behave as if this was a ball game of winning and losing is an outrage. This was about four people losing their lives and another person facing the prospect of a 110-year prison sentence,” Martinez told The Denver Channel.
“It is very disappointing but not surprising that the district attorney, in this case, would allow this to happen given the background of this matter, the legal process itself and the way my client was treated,” he added.
In addition, the League of United Latin American Citizens, which frequently commented on the case, called for “immediate disciplinary action and a formal apology.”
“To say we are disgusted over this so-called trophy is an understatement. LULAC demands a full investigation into the matter to identify the people who are involved so that they face the maximum disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal,” LULAC national President Domingo Garcia said in a statement to The Denver Channel.
“To mock the seriousness of this case diminishes the loss of four lives as well as the pain suffered by everyone affected by this tragedy. This trophy is evidence of the total lack of respect and basic human decency by the district attorney and her team in this matter,” he added.
“They are dancing on the graves of the victims and showing their glee that a man faces a sentence equal to three generations in an unjust verdict. Professionalism is clearly lacking in this District Attorney’s office,” Garcia said.
First Judicial District Attorney King has filed a motion with the court to reconsider the 110-year sentence.
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