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Crime

Basil sentenced to 18 years for fatal Molly's Pub shove

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Jeffrey Basil, the former bar manager who pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the 2014 death of an Air National Guardsman, was sentenced to 18 years in prison Wednesday in State Supreme Court.Basil, 37, took a plea deal in June after his initial conviction was thrown out due to juror misconduct. He faced between 15 and 21 years at sentencing.

On the early morning of May 11, 2014, Basil pushed William Sager Jr. down a flight of stairs at Molly's Pub on Main Street in Buffalo, a bar in the city's University Heights neighborhood. Sager, 28, suffered a traumatic head injury and went into a coma, succumbing to his injuries last July. He left behind a young fiancee, Erika Webster.

"I will never understand how something like this could happen to such a vibrant and loving person because his life was cut unfairly short by somebody who was given more chances than he ever deserved," said Webster in the courtroom.

Basil did not testify at his trial but did apologize to the Sager family before Wednesday's sentencing. A jury found him guilty of second-degree murder, but the conviction was later tossed by Judge Penny Wolfgang, who determined a female juror was not truthful about her background.

"For the judge, this was a struggle to come up with what she believed was the right sentence," said defense attorney Joel Daniels. "We think this was a fair sentence and we commend the judge for it."

Basil apologized to the Sager family in court Wednesday, saying his actions were inexcusable. He will have to serve at least 15 of the 18 years he received before being eligible for early release.

Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita III says ultimately, he is not satisfied with the outcome of the case.

"I was satisfied with the verdict of the trial jury finding him guilty of murder in the second degree and I would have been satisfied with an indeterminate sentence having life at one end of it. That, in my mind, would have given the community and the victim's family a measure of justice," said Sedita.

"I wish he would have gotten the maximum. I think he deserved the maximum."

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