Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, the 23-year-old truck driver from Houston accused of causing a massive crash on Interstate 70 near the Colorado Mills Parkway exit that killed casino executive Stan Politano and three others on April 25, is a free man. He bonded out on Saturday, May 18, according to jail records and Facebook posts shared by his wife, Nailan Gonzalez.
At 11:57 p.m. on the May 18, Gonzalez wrote (in translated Spanish), "It's already done at the end #freerogel — just 1 hr ago.... One and a thousand times, more thanks to each of you. God bless you. Grateful first with God and with you."
Late last month, Gonzalez shared her husband's first public comments about his arrest. After a jailhouse visit, she quoted him as saying, "God is with me. This is not just what they are doing to me."
After the pileup, which involved 28 vehicles, caused at least ten injuries in addition to the four fatalities and led to a closure of I-70 in both directions until the next day, Aguilera-Mederos insisted to authorities that his brakes had failed. But prosecutors clearly have a different theory.
On May 3, Aguilera-Mederos was hit with forty criminal charges, including four counts of vehicular homicide-reckless, six of first-degree assault, and 24 counts of attempted first-degree assault.
Aguilera-Mederos made his first court appearance on Saturday, April 27, before District Judge Chris Zenisek. He was advised of his rights and informed that there was probable cause for his arrest.
At the time, the office of 1st Judicial District DA Pete Weir asked for a $500,000 cash bond for Aguilera-Mederos "considering the extent of the damage, that Mr. Aguilera has no ties to Colorado and is in the U.S. on a green card, and that Mr. Aguilera could potentially face a significant prison sentence."
After considering this request, Zenisek set bond at $400,000 cash/surety and affixed the conditions that Aguilera-Mederos not drive upon release and surrender his passport.
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Typically, 10 percent of a bond is required for an individual to be freed. Various fundraisers were staged for Aguilera-Mederos on Facebook and GoFundMe, and on May 8, Gonzalez posted that the amount pledged had reached $39,987.
Three days later, on May 11, she updated the total to $42,470 — a figure that exceeded 10 percent of the bond.
A week later, on the afternoon of May 18, Gonzalez apologized for a shortage of recent updates. "Do Justice is what we all want," she stressed before adding, "My blessings to all, but above all my condolences to the family of people who are already with God." She reiterated her "greatest condolences" while calling her husband's jailing "an injustice."
That evening, Aguilera-Mederos walked out of jail, but his trip through the criminal justice system is far from over: On July 11, he must return to court for a preliminary hearing.