No House Tour for Jayson Williams Jurors
Jayson Williams’s lawyers in his manslaughter trial have been denied in their request to have jury members visit his 65-acre, 41-room home in rural new Jersey so they can retrace the steps of the ex-New Jersey Nets star, 36, on the night a gun he was holding fired and killed chauffeur Costos “Gus” Christofi.
Possibly more harmful to Williams, New Jersey State Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman also denied a request to have the eight-count indictment against him dismissed, according to published reports. The athlete’s lawyers had sought a routine defense motion to acquit Williams, given their claims that the 36 witnesses presented by the prosecution failed to produce sufficient evidence to pin the fatal shooting on Williams.
As for the house request, Coleman said that a tour of the Williams estate might create undue sympathy for the defendant.
On Monday, while the jury was not present, defense lawyer Joseph A. Hayden Jr. argued that a tour would help the jury understand the sightlines, angles and distances, especially in the master bedroom, where Christofi was shot during the early hours of Feb. 14, 2002, while Williams was showing friends his mansion.
Hayden also wanted the jurors to get a first-hand view of the amenities they had heard about during testimony: a skeet range, a lacrosse field and a former barn that’s now a garage for antique cars.
But assistant prosecutor Katharine Errickson opposed Hayden’s invitation, arguing that over the trial’s six weeks the jury already had the assistance of more than 100 pictures and a videotape.
She also said it would be impossible to make the house look exactly as it did two years ago, and such a tour would reveal “a lot more than the crime scene,” such as mementos and pictures of Williams posing with other players and celebrities — adding up to character testimony that prosecutors would be unable to cross-examine.