Thursday , Apr , 15 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Williams trial to continue

Somerville, NJ (Sports Network) – A judge ruled on Thursday that the
manslaughter trial of former NBA player Jayson Williams will continue,
despite the prosecutors’s effort to dismiss all charges due to an evidence
dispute.

The defense lawyers claimed prosecutors intentionally withheld evidence.
Prosecutors, though, have denied that the delay in providing the evidence was
intentional.

The defense team was seeking a mistrial over the evidence dispute, which
started when the prosecution said it had discovered photos and notes from its
weapons expert that it was obligated to send to the defense months ago.

However, Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman rejected the defense
argument.

Williams is facing multiple charges, including aggravated manslaughter in the
shooting death of limousine driver Costas “Gus” Christofi on February 14,
2002. He faces 55 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Evidence about Williams’ shotgun is key to the defense, which claims that the
gun misfired when Williams snapped it shut while showing friends his mansion
in early February.

The 36-year-old Williams is accused of recklessly handling the gun that
killed Christofi and then trying to make the shooting look self-inflicted.
Williams told all the guests they must agree the shooting was a suicide, and
he wanted them to lie to police.

Two witnesses eventually reached a deal with prosecutors to testify against
Williams to avoid charges of tampering with evidence and lying to
investigators.

The 6-foot-10 Williams spent nine years in the NBA, averaging 7.3 points and
7.5 rebounds. His career ended in 1999 when he broke his right leg and injured
his right knee.

NJ