Thursday , Apr , 29 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Williams jury split on two of eight charges

Somerville, NJ (Sports Network) – The jury in the Jayson Williams manslaughter
trial finished its third day of deliberations Thursday, split on two of the
eight charges.

The 12 jurors, who began deliberations Tuesday, are in agreement on the six
other charges. Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman asked the them to
continue their deliberations, which they did for an hour before retiring for
the day.

Aggravated manslaughter is the most serious charge Williams faces in the
shooting death of limousine driver Costas “Gus” Christofi on February 14,
2002. The retired NBA star and former TV analyst faces 55 years in prison if
convicted on all eight charges.

Coleman had previously 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 allegedly 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