BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Airman William Sager’s family is making funeral arrangements, as prosecutors decide how to proceed against his accused attacker.
Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita says he won’t be surprised if the grand jury considers homicide charges against 35-year-old Jeffery Basil, now that Sager has died.
Sedita says the same grand jury that indicted Basil on a second-degree attempted murder charge will be presented new evidence to consider a murder charge sometime in the next two or three weeks.
Attorney Nick Romano doesn’t represent anyone associated with the case, but says it doesn’t take much for a grand jury to indict.
Romano said, “It’s a very low standard, the grand jury. So it’s not beyond a reasonable doubt like it is at trial.”
The jury just needs to believe there’s enough reasonable evidence.
Sager was pushed down the stairs inside Mollys Pub and suffered a severe brain injury. The Air National Guardsman was in a coma until Thursday, when he succumbed to his injuries.
Sager was supposed to marry Erika Webster last month. Now instead of planning a wedding, his family is preparing for a funeral.
A public viewing will be held at the John J. Kaczor Funeral Home on 5453 Southwestern Boulevard in Hamburg on Monday, August 4 from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. A private service to celebrate Sager’s life also will take place at the funeral home on Tuesday, August 5.
Sager will then be escorted to Glennwood Cemetery in Silver Creek where he will be buried with full military honors. The burial will be private.
Thursday night his family released a statement saying in part:
“There are no words to express the family, or Erika’s sadness for this tremendous loss, nor are there enough words to express their gratitude to so many for prayers and words of comfort over these difficult weeks.”
Basil is charged with attempted murder in connection to Sager’s death. An off-duty Buffalo Police officer who was working security that night testified that he saw Basil push Sager from the top of a staircase. Basil is also charged with first-degree assault and tampering with evidence.
That same officer testified that Basil was on drugs and drunk the night he injured Sager.
Romano says if the defense can prove alcohol or drugs impacted Basil’s mindset, and he didn’t have control of himself, the jury could consider a lesser charge.
Basil’s defense attorney Joel Daniel’s didn’t want to comment on Friday.
A benefit that had been planned for Sager on Sunday at the Grand Island VFW will still go forward. Organizers say proceeds will help his family pay for medical bills.