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At trial, Mots testified that he had a green light, that he slowed before he entered the intersection and that he checked to make sure all the cars at the intersection had stopped before proceeding. He denied hiding at Rehrer's father's house to avoid drug testing, telling the jury that he stayed with Rehrer and her father all the time. He said that his fellow firefighters wanted him to stay with Rehrer because they didn't want him to be alone, and he didn't want to be alone, either. He denied that he'd had anything to drink or that he had used any drugs before the accident.
Also testifying were then-Capt. Stephen, firefighters Brian Smith, David Lynn, Craig Duke and now-retired Assistant Fire Chief Tony Novak. Novak claimed that he was upset and regretful that Mots' blood was never tested. He blamed confusion at the accident scene.
But a witness for the defense refuted Novak's testimony about confusion at the scene.
Before the trial, Cohen had deposed Patty Kroll, a Unified Government employee knowledgeable about the UG's policies. "Following an accident while on duty or operating a city vehicle," Kroll told Cohen, "alcohol and drug tests will be administered to each surviving employee whose conduct contributed to the accident or cannot be completely discounted as a contributing factor in the opinion of a supervisor, or in the case of an accident involving the loss of human life."
The supervisor at the scene of the accident was now-retired Assistant Fire Chief Tony Novak. Based on the UG's policy, Cohen expected Novak to testify that he had surveyed the scene and conclusively determined that Mots couldn't be blamed for the accident and that no testing was necessary.
At trial, Novak surprised Cohen by testifying that he'd wanted Mots to get tested and was upset when he found out, weeks later, that Mots hadn't been tested. Cohen says Novak also testified that, on the night of the accident, Novak had called in the Kansas Highway Patrol so that there would be no allegations of conflict of interest at the scene, and that Novak expected Highway Patrol employees to test Mots. Mots must not have been tested because of "confusion" at the accident scene, Novak testified.
But Novak's story was contradicted when Kansas Highway Patrolman Mike Gruber, a witness for the defense, testified that he was told on the scene that the Unified Government would test Mots.
"That's where the claim of confusion fell apart," Cohen tells The Pitch. Gruber's testimony was supposed to help make the Unified Government's case but instead weakened it. "Novak's saying, 'Gee, people just assumed. We assumed they'd test him.' Gruber's saying, 'No, somebody with the government either told me they'd test him or told one of my troopers, and then my trooper reported it to me.... We did not simply assume the government would test him. We were told.'
"That's not confusion," Cohen says. "That's deception."
The jurors apparently believed that the firefighters were standing up for one of their own.
"I have no problem with Tony Mots. I think he ended up being the scapegoat," says a male juror. "There were policies and procedures that the Kansas City, Kansas, fire department didn't follow through on. One thing that really swayed the jury was this mandatory policy of drug testing that fell through the cracks."
He recalls firefighters testifying, "We don't go out to hurt people. We go out to help. Tony Mots was the first guy out of the truck and to the Becerra vehicle before other help arrived ... if this [Mot's alleged impairment] was really going on, we wouldn't want him on our crew. We wouldn't want to be fighting fires with him.