Driver pleads guilty in New Year’s Day crash

UPDATE: 9/15/17: Abdikadir Jaffar has pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular assault, the highest charge in the indictment.

He faces up to three and 1/3 years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 28

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- 31-year-old Abdikadir Jaffar of Utica appeared before Erie County Court Judge Kenneth F. Case Thursday morning on charges stemming from a New Year’s Day crash which injured three pedestrians.

It’s alleged Jaffar was drunk behind the wheel.

Jaffar was arraigned on an indictment charging him with five counts of Aggravated Vehicular Assault, three counts of Assault in the Second Degree and one count of Assault in the Third Degree.

Jaffar pleaded not guilty to all of the elevated charges against him.

Originally, Jaffar was facing the charge of DWI and Vehicular Assault in the Second Degree, an E Felony.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said the reason the indictment took four months to bring was because prosecutors had to wait and see the extent of the pedestrians’ injuries.

The alleged incident occurred Jan. 1 just around 1 o’clock in the morning.

According to prosecutors, Jaffar was driving recklessly on Richmond Avenue in Buffalo and struck a car being driven by Anthony Hill. Hill’s passenger, 20-year-old Anabellin Cruz suffered a concussion.

Additionally, Jaffar is accused of continuing over the curb, hitting a pole, snapping it off and then driving onto the sidewalk, striking multiple pedestrians.

16-year-old Nathan Kahn of Buffalo lost his left leg above the knee, 15-year-old Benjamin Weigel of Orchard Park suffered a concussion, herniated discs and other back issues and 62-year-old Christopher Sheppard suffered a broken pelvis and two broken legs from the crash.

Police reported Jaffar’s BAC at the time of crash was .22%, almost three times the legal limit.

If convicted of all the charges, Jaffar faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Judge Case ordered Jaffar be remanded without bail.

According to Flynn, that’s due to Jaffar being a potential flight risk and also the elevated charges.

Jaffar’s attorney, TheArthur Duncan, said his client has no plans to leave Buffalo.

“He came to America for a reason. He’s been here for ten years, he’s a citizen, he has his wife here, like seven kids. He was in the Utica area and moved to Buffalo to face these charges. I’m in constant contact with him,” he told News 4 following Jaffar’s appearance.

Duncan said he’s working with a private investigator to determine if something was put into his client’s drink that night. A devout Muslim, Jaffar very rarely drinks, and was pressured by new friends that night according to Duncan.

According to Duncan, Jaffar cannot remember many of the events that night.

“As of now my client, he really doesn’t know what happened, someone may have slipped something in his drink or something,” Duncan said.

Flynn called that argument disingenuous.

“As far as I know, there’s no way to increase someone’s blood alcohol level with a mickey,” the DA told News 4.

Flynn said he was pleased with Judge Case’s decision to remand Jaffar without bail.

Jaffar is expected back before Judge Case June 9.

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