Widely known Buffalo defense attorney Paul Cambria was asked to provide commentary for WBEN on two high-profile local cases. Click here for the interview.
The first case involves Jeffrey Basil, who is accused in the death of Bill Sager. Mr. Basil, while working as a bar manager at Molly’s Pub in Buffalo, allegedly pushed him down the bar’s stairs; several months later, he died of related complications.
Intention and intoxication
At Mr. Basil’s trial, a bartender who was working at Molly’s Pub when the event occurred testified that, later that night, Mr. Basil told her he had just “killed a kid” and asked her not to talk about it.
Asked if this would be very damaging to Mr. Basil’s case, Mr. Cambria said, “If you think about it, this is in reaction to what happened; it isn’t before it happened. So the defense I’m sure is going to take the position that this, number one, was not an intentional murder. . . if anything, it was a reckless act, or it was a negligent act, or it was an innocent act between two people who were intoxicated and pushing each other back and forth. And this statement after it is all over is simply a reaction to what happened as opposed to a reflection of what is going to happen . . . It sounds bad, but if you dissect it, it really is just a reaction, an ‘oh my god, look what happened’ kind of thing.”
About the defense attorney’s claim that everyone was intoxicated that night, Mr. Cambria said, “I think what [the defense] is trying to do is take advantage of a provision of the law regarding intoxication. Intoxication is not a complete defense to any crime, but intoxication can be used to reduce the intent. For example, an intentional act turns out to be a negligent act or a reckless act. As the intent goes down, the severity of the crime goes down.” He continued, “And it also explains part of the defense that the person here who is deceased was also at fault to some degree because he was intoxicated.”
Called to testify by the DMV
The second case Mr. Cambria analyzed for WBEN involved a hit and run in the Town of Evans that resulted in the victim’s death. Police in the town are convinced Gabriele Ballowe, a local bar owner, was at the wheel of her SUV when it struck Barry Moss, but she denies having anything to do with it. She has been called to testify at a Department of Motor Vehicles hearing.
Mr. Cambria said, “Whether or not she was the driver, the police can believe that all they’d like, but they have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. What they have done is circumstantially said ‘your car was in an accident, and so there should have been a report.’” He continued, “That’s why they are having this hearing, to say ‘there’s an accident and we’re going to inquire about it.’ She doesn’t have to testify, and I’m sure she’s not going to testify; her lawyer can simply show up. Now the consequence are [likely to be] they’ll take her license.”
A member of Lipsitz Green’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, Mr. Cambria also advises clients on Constitutional and First Amendment law, zoning and land use, antitrust, and professional licensing defense.