A key prosecution witness in basketball player Jayson Williams’s manslaughter trial in New Jersey delivered damaging testimony Monday, saying that the former NBA player cursed at his alleged victim and then tried to transfer the slain man’s fingerprints to a shotgun moments after firing the fatal shot on Feb. 14, 2002, say news reports.
Kent Culuko, 31, described by New York’s Daily News as a former college basketball standout who once tried out for the Nets, said he was not certain of the sequence of events, “but I know what I saw.” He went on to say that Williams tried to “lightly touch” the man’s fingerprints to the 12-gauge gun, reports the Associated Press.
Williams, 23, maintains the shooting was an accident.
Culuko, however, also testified that Williams ordered him to move the shotgun, after trying to put shooting victim Costas “Gus” Christofi’s fingerprints on it.
Culuko says the fatal blast was fired as Williams swung his shotgun one-handed, in Culuko’s words, “like if you were bowling.”
“I saw Jayson with a gun. I saw him turn. I saw him flip it. I saw Gus roll his eyes and I saw the gun go off,” said Culuko, the first eyewitness to the shooting to take the stand since the Feb. 10 start of ex-Net’s trial.
As “the gun went off,” Christofi “got jolted back” into a small table, then fell on his left side, Culuko said, according to the News. Williams then fell to his knees “like a ton of bricks,” Culuko continued, quoting Williams as saying: “Oh, my God. What just happened? My life is over. How could this happen?”
Culuko, who has pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and tampering with a witness as part of a plea deal, admitted to participating in the cover-up “to protect my friend,” notes the News.