|Williams' lawyers seek details on racial slur|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 13 December 2007 00:53|
Williams, who was convicted of covering up the shooting but acquitted of aggravated manslaughter, is facing retrial on a reckless manslaughter count. The retrial was scheduled for early January, but that could be pushed back depending on the outcome of Thursday's status conference before state Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman.
Williams' attorneys, in a court filing, said the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office only recently disclosed the slur. The defense lawyers contend the information could have been used during the first trial to discredit the prosecution's case.
The defense team has said it will consider moving to have Williams' earlier convictions overturned.
Hunterdon County Prosecutor J. Patrick Barnes alerted the judge about the unspecified slur in a letter Oct. 18, telling him that a ``superior officer'' was accused of using a racial epithet to describe Williams in a meeting sometime before the 2004 trial. The letter did not name the officer or specify what was said.
Barnes said the officer's ``involvement in the investigation and trial of Jayson Williams can at best be characterized as marginal'' and was ``largely confined to assisting the prosecutors transport evidence'' to the courthouse in Somerville.
Lawyers for Williams, however, maintain that prosecutors are obligated to give them details about the slur.
Williams was convicted in 2004 of attempting to cover up the slaying of Costas ``Gus'' Christofi but was acquitted of the more serious charge of aggravated manslaughter. Witnesses at the first trial said Williams took a 12-gauge shotgun from a case in his house and snapped it closed. The gun fired once and Christofi was struck in the chest.
The defense has maintained the shooting was an accident and that Williams panicked afterward.
Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on the reckless manslaughter count, voting 8-4 in favor of acquittal, leading to a retrial on that single count.
Williams, 39, remains free on bail and has yet to be sentenced on the four cover-up convictions.
A former star at St. John's, Williams played nine seasons in the NBA, including the last seven with the New Jersey Nets, and retired in 2000.