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Sedita laments judge’s criticism of Juror No. 12

Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III wouldn’t tip his hand Tuesday on whether he expects his office to appeal the decision to set aside Jeffrey J. Basil’s murder conviction, but he did say he doesn’t plan to file criminal charges against Juror No. 12.

And Sedita offered harsh words about how State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang “attacked” that juror.

“We’ll either appeal it, or we’ll retry the case,” Sedita told reporters.

And if his office thinks it has a good chance of a successful appeal, it will do so.

Prosecutors will study Wolfgang’s decision and then investigate the court cases she cited in her ruling.

“Obviously, that process takes some time,” Sedita added.

The district attorney also said he was disappointed but not surprised by the ruling.

He sounded surprised by some of the language in Wolfgang’s decision, based on the many court decisions he’s read over his 27 years as a prosecutor.

“I’ve never seen a judge’s decision that attacks a juror like this,” he said.

He cited several phrases in that ruling, including ones that described the juror’s testimony as evasive, not credible, inherently prejudicial and concealing information.

“It just goes on and on to lambaste a citizen who agreed to sacrifice her time and her life to serve,” Sedita said of the juror’s time on the jury.

“I feel badly for Juror No. 12,” Sedita said later. “This juror has now been repeatedly called a liar, over and over again, by a judge.”

Sedita bristled at one reporter’s additional question about the juror.

“It was Mr. Basil who committed a crime here, a heinous crime,” he said, not the juror.

The district attorney also talked about the effect of the judge’s decision on the family of William C. Sager Jr., who was killed.

“It’s professionally challenging for us,” he said. “It’s devastating for them.”

Sager’s family lost a loved one, before the prime of his life, in a “senseless” crime committed by “a complete thug,” Sedita said.

He hopes that Sager’s family still trusts his office, he said, but the judicial process has let that family down.

Besides losing their loved one, family members had to relive the killing in court, and now they may have to do it again.

“That’s got to be really hard,” he added. “I feel for them.”