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Pretrial hearing held for former Molly's Pub manager

Ashley Hirtzel

A pretrial hearing for Jeffery Basil was held in Erie County Court Friday. Basil is accused of pushing William Sager Jr., 28, down the stairs at Molly's Pub on May 11. The fall led to Sager's death two months later.

Basil has pleaded not guilty to first-degree manslaughter, second-degree murder, and tampering with physical evidence in the case.

During pretrial, Basil’s Attorney Joel Daniels asked for a subpoena for off-duty Buffalo Police officer Robert Eloff, who was allegedly present at the time of the incident, along with another off-duty officer, Adam O’Shei. Eloff has been evoking his 5th Amendment rights making it difficult for his testimony to be heard.

“We intend to call him as a defense witness and we asked the court to confer immunity on him in the event he raises his 5th Amendment privilege and the alternative should the court deny that request to allow us to question him and have the jury consider his responses assuming he raises the 5th Amendment,” said Daniels.

O’Shei was granted immunity at a previous date. The two officers have been under investigation by Buffalo Police Internal Affairs for allegedly working security outside Molly’s Pub that night.

Assistant Erie County District Attorney Christopher Belling asked the court for the allowance of a physics expert to explain how far and fast Sager was launched down the stairs, although the defense is calling for a hearing on the expert.

“Where you need the professor is, I don’t know how to calculate the speed. I don’t believe the court knows how to calculate the speed. I don’t think council knows how to calculate the speed. I may have known in high school physics. I may have known in college, but I don’t know today. I would suspect that our 12 jurors won’t know how to do that calculation. The professors involvement will be merely to quantify various happenings that occurred,” said Belling.

Judge Penny Wolfgang has reserved a decision on Eloff and denied the need for a hearing. The trial is set to begin on January 5. If convicted, Basil faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.