Wednesday , Apr , 28 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Deliberations begin in Jayson Williams case

Somerville, NJ (Sports Network) – The jury in the Jayson Williams manslaughter
case began deliberations Tuesday after several hours of closing arguments were
completed on Monday.

The illness of a prosecuting attorney delayed the summations, which were
originally scheduled for April 22.

The 12 members of the jury heard each other’s views on the case after
receiving instructions on the law from state Superior Court Judge Edward M.
Coleman.

They retired for the day after deliberating for nearly five hours, and will
return Wednesday morning.

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.

Nearly two weeks ago, Coleman rejected a defense argument to dismiss all
charges due to an evidence dispute. The defense claimed prosecutors
intentionally withheld evidence, a charge the prosecution denied.

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

Meanwhile, evidence about Williams’ shotgun was key to the defense, which
asserted that the gun misfired when Williams snapped it shut while showing
his mansion to friends.

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 that 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