April 12, 2004 10:21 AM

Accusing the prosecution of “intentional and egregious prosecution misconduct that is part of a greater continuing pattern of deception,” defense attorneys for ex-NBA star Jayson Williams asked a New Jersey State Superior Court judge on Monday to toss out the manslaughter case against their client.

Williams, 36, is charged with killing chauffeur Costas “Gus” Christofi, 55, on Feb. 14, 2002, at the star’s New Jersey mansion. The defense has maintained that Williams’s shotgun, a 1993 Browning Citori 12-gauge, misfired when Williams snapped it shut while conducting a tour of his house for friends.

The prosecution argued, however, that Williams was recklessly handling the gun and then tried to make the shooting look like a suicide — and persuaded others to lie that Christofi had shot himself.

Williams faces eight charges, the most serious of which is aggravated manslaughter. Collectively, they carry up to 55 years behind bars

Williams’s lawyers argued that Judge Edward M. Coleman should drop all charges — and there should be no retrial — because the prosecution admitted they failed to hand over evidence for the defense to review. The evidence reputedly consisted of 25 photographs and notes taken by the prosecution’s rebuttal witness, Larry Nelson, a weapons expert.

Nelson disassembled and then examined the weapon on Feb. 5 2003, but did so with no defense representative present, said AP. The defense argues that evidence might have been altered or lost during the examination.

Robert D. Zatorski, a former prosecutor for Hudson County, told the Associated Press, however, that “dismissal is beyond the pale,” adding, “A fair trial doesn’t mean a perfect trial.”

You May Like