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Crime

Basil decision postponed as judge weighs juror's testimony

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Jeffrey Basil will spend another month in jail before learning his fate. Judge Penny Wolfgang reserved decision Tuesday on whether to vacate Basil's second-degree murder conviction. During a hearing on the motion, juror number twelve admitted she did not disclose her military service or that she was arrested in the 1990s. Defense Attorney Paul Cambria says those facts are important in jury selection because people in the military share a bond.  

"This is an air guardsman who probably was in the same facility in Niagara Falls as the deceased and as the witness for the prosecution, so it takes on significance and you would probe that. You would make a decision as to whether or not the one witness who was in the military with him was somebody that you would have an impact over," Cambria said, following the hearing in State Supreme Court.

"Her interview indicates that when that witness came up in summation, she then said she cried and that military component was part of it. I think that demonstrates that it had an effect on her."

Basil, 36, was convicted earlier this year in the death of Air National Guardsman William Sager Jr. The jury determined Basil pushed Sager down a flight of stairs at Molly's Pub on the early morning of May 11, 2014, causing a fatal head injury. Sager died a few months later.

Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita III says the motion is common in high-profile murder trials. Sedita says the juror was properly questioned by both sides and properly seated.

"Defense attorneys make claims and accusations every day, most of which do not turn out to be true. They turn out to be exaggerations, they turn out to be misleading, the main purpose of which is to be media fodder," Sedita said.

A decision is expected May 5. If the judge upholds the verdict, Basil would be sentenced that day and would face up to 25 years to life in prison . If the verdict is set aside, Basil would be subject to another trial.

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