Prosecutors will once again try the former NBA star on the charge of reckless manslaughter

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated May 22, 2004 11:20 AM

Jayson Williams will be retried on the reckless manslaughter charge that deadlocked a jury last month, prosecutors announced at a special hearing in a Somerset County, N.J., courtroom Friday.

A new trial date of Jan. 10, 2005, has been set for the former NBA star.

In telling Superior Court Judge Edward Coleman of the decision, prosecutor Steven Lember said that he and his superiors weighed several options before choosing a new trial.

Prosecutors had the choice of informing the jurist that they would simply drop the reckless manslaughter charge against Williams and proceed with sentencing on the cover-up charges against him, or else seek a second trial.

By opting for the latter, prosecutors are permitting Williams’s sentencing to be delayed until its completion.

Last month, after four days of deliberations, a jury acquitted the Williams of the most serious charge against him, aggravated manslaughter, for the Feb. 14, 2002, shooting of hired driver Costas “Gus” Christofi. He was also cleared of an aggravated assault and a weapons charge.

But on the charge of reckless manslaughter, the jurors were split 8-4, with the majority in favor of acquittal.

The jury also convicted Williams, 36, of four counts related to his attempt to cover up the shooting of Christofi, who was among a group of friends and Harlem Globetrotters touring Williams’s New Jersey mansion.

The defense for Williams, who had a skeet-shooting range at his Alexandria Township estate, maintained that the shooting was an accident, and that the weapon misfired.

Legal experts have said that it is unlikely Williams would receive prison time for the cover-up charges, but if retried and convicted of reckless manslaughter, he could face between 5 to 10 years in prison.