A judge ruled Monday that former NBA forward Jayson Williams may remain free on bail as he awaits a retrial on manslaughter charges in the shooting death of his limousine driver in 2002.
While he was acquitted in 2004 of aggravated manslaughter and the jury deadlocked on the reckless manslaughter charge, he was convicted of trying to cover up the shooting of his hired driver, Costas "Gus" Christofi, at his mansion in Alexandria Township, N.J. He has been free on bail pending a new trial. Prosecutors had asked the judge to reconsider the sentencing delay due to Williams' recent run-ins with the law, saying he has become "unpredictable."
Earlier this year, his wife filed for divorce, saying Williams was abusive and a drug user. Two months ago, police Tasered Williams during an altercation at a New York hotel. The following month, he was arrested in North Carolina for his role in a barroom fight. But State Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman disagreed with Hunterdon County Assistant Prosecutor Seana Pappas. Coleman noted that Williams hasn't been convicted of anything since his 2004 trial and continues to show up to court as required.
"It doesn't make sense to me, frankly, to move ahead with the sentencing," Coleman said. He also denied prosecutors' request to increase bail from the original $250,000.
Williams' attorney Joseph Hayden said his client didn't start the bar fight, didn't hurt anyone at the hotel, and is not a threat to the public.
"He was not the aggressor and actually defended himself," Hayden said of the bar fight. After the hotel incident, Hayden said, Williams voluntarily checked himself into a hospital for treatment and is currently getting counseling. "None of that was a violation of the conditions of his bail," Hayden said.
Williams played nine seasons in the NBA with the Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers before retiring in 2000.