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"When guys work together the way those people do," the male juror continues, "when their lives depend on each other, they're going to protect one another, no question about it."
But one female juror says the firefighters' testimony lacked heart. "They were in a position, you know, damned if you do and damned if you don't," she says. "This is their job. This is the Unified Government on trial. That's their employer. They were in a position where they had to say what they had to say. I don't think the defendant's lawyer was able to get them to be wholehearted about anything. He got as much out of them as he could."
The jury heard testimony from accident reconstruction experts and witnesses from the accident scene. Pages of drawings and dozens of photos of the intersection at 18th Street and Central were passed in front of them. Several witnesses reported that Mots could not have avoided hitting Becerra's car. But one witness, Kenneth Lee, a railroad engineer who was 55 at the time of the accident, told a different story.
Lee said he wanted to turn left off Central but became impatient with a car in front of him, driven by an older man who was slow to make the turn. Lee pulled into the through lane instead and stopped because the light had turned red. Lee watched in his rearview mirror as the firetruck came up fast behind him. The truck pulled around Lee and the older man's cars and entered the intersection going the wrong way, into oncoming traffic. Lee said the truck didn't hit the brakes until after running into Becerra.
Lee told his version of events to the emergency response crew at the scene of the accident, then drove to the office of the Kansas Highway Patrol the next day to report it again, to make sure his account was on the record.
The testimony of Mike Macek, the older man who had been in the left-turn lane, backed up Lee's report — that the firetruck went through a red light without braking.
To his deposition, Lee added a statement: "The firetruck driver, in my opinion, is guilty of vehicular homicide and negligence because he came through the intersection with no regard for public safety, and he took a life, when all he had to do was slow up and see what was coming through the intersection."
Mots seemed quiet and remorseful in the courtroom, the female juror says. But, she adds, "In my mind, you can feel bad and you can look sad, but are you feeling sad for the victims or sad for yourself?... He said he was sorry, but is it, 'I'm sorry I'm in this mess' or 'I'm sorry you lost your loved one,' you know?"
The jury was also influenced by the testimony of pain experts who described what Becerra would have suffered.
"The thing that weighed so heavily was the fact that the young man was at the hospital, cut open because of all the swelling, and they left him like that for six or seven days, couldn't even close him up," the male juror says. "That was hard to listen to."
The jurors ruled against Mots and the Unified Government and awarded Sabrina $1.7 million. Later, Lampson reduced that sum to $500,000, in compliance with Kansas state law's cap on legal awards against government entities.
When the verdict was read, the male juror recalls that Mots and his fellow firefighters looked stunned. "Tony was pretty devastated when the verdict came down," he says. "You could tell by the look on his face. I think the firefighters thought they'd win. But you could tell by looking, they were hurt. Surprised."