Opening statements made in Williams’ trial
Somerville, NJ (Sports Network) – Lawyers for both sides made their opening
statements Tuesday in the manslaughter trial of former NBA star Jayson
The prosecution presented jurors with a very different scene than did the
defense, detailing alleged drinking on the night that limousine driver Costas
“Gus” Christofi was shot to death at Williams’ mansion in Alexandria Township.
Williams is accused of recklessly handling the shotgun that killed Christofi
in February, 2002, and then allegedly trying to make the shooting look self-
inflicted by wiping his fingerprints from the gun and trying to place a dying
Christofi’s hand around the weapon.
It is also alleged that Williams removed his clothing and cleaned up in a pool
before putting on new clothes and directing guests to tell police Christofi
Two other men charged in the alleged cover-up have pleaded guilty and agreed
to testify against Williams.
The defense painted a friendlier picture of that night, detailing a “family
atmosphere” at Williams’ house and at a restaurant the former Net and some
friends attended that night.
Christofi had driven Williams and some friends from a Harlem Globetrotters
event in Pennsylvania to a restaurant in Franklin Township, New Jersey, and
then to Williams’ estate.
Defense attorney Billy Martin noted that one of Williams’ guests that night,
at the restaurant and his house, was accompanied by his children. Martin also
spoke extensively about his client’s character and background.
Williams could face nearly 55 years in prison if convicted on all charges, the
most severe of which is aggravated manslaughter.
The 6-foot-10 Williams spent nine years in the NBA and averaged 7.3 points
and 7.5 rebounds per game. His career ended in 1999 when he broke his right
leg and injured his right knee.