VIA: New York Daily News
Former NBA star Jayson Williams is going to be wearing a new uniform – prison garb.
The former New Jersey Nets player pleaded guilty Monday to fatally shooting his limo driver with a shotgun and has agreed – as part of his plea deal – to serve 18 months to five years in jail.
Williams, 41, who would be eligible for parole after serving the minimum, calmly admitted that he failed to check that the safety was on before he closed the shotgun with a snap – and it fired off a round that felled Costas (Gus) Christofi.
“I didn’t look in the direction the muzzle of the gun was pointed,” he said, before admitting that his handling of the gun was reckless.
It was not clear when Williams will be sentenced. He has been free on bail since the February 2002 shooting.
His guilty plea to an aggravated assault charge closes the book on a case that took eight years to resolve and brought only a measure of justice that the Christofi family had been seeking.
Williams was facing retrial for a more serious charge – reckless manslaughter – for accidentally killing the 55-year-old driver.
There was no immediate reaction from Christofi’s family.
In November, the driver’s disgusted sister told the Daily News that the plea deal then being considered – three years in prison – was an insult to her dead brother.
“He should be doing a lot more than that,” Andrea Adams said at the time. “He’s been out free for seven years. Right now, I’m sort of numb. I mean, it hurts.”
Williams was acquitted in 2004 on aggravated manslaughter and convicted of cover-up charges. The jury deadlocked on reckless manslaughter. And the case had been in legal limbo ever since.
Christofi had been hired by Williams to drive his guests back to New Jersey after a Harlem Globetrotters game.
Witnesses said Williams had been drinking and was showing off a shotgun when it went off and blasted Christofi in the chest.
Investigators said Williams then placed the gun in Christofi’s hands and asked everybody in the room to lie about what happened.
Williams insisted the shooting was an accident and in 2003 he shelled out $2.75 million to settle a wrongful civil death suit.
Since then, Williams has been haunted by the tragedy while his own life has spiralled out of control.
The former St. John’s University star is getting divorced and claims to be broke despite making $87 million with the Nets.
Williams was hospitalized in April after he grew violent in a Battery Park City hotel room. Cops found suicide notes and empty pill bottles scattered throughout the room – and had to use stun guns to subdue him.
A month later, Williams was charged with assault after allegedly punching a man in the face outside a North Carolina bar. The charges were later dropped.
Then in November, Williams’ father, E.J., died in South Carolina.
Earlier this month, Williams broke a small bone in his neck but avoided paralysis when he smashed his SUV into a tree after veering off an exit ramp of the FDR Drive at East 20th Street.
Witnesses said Williams had been drinking and whooping it up at an upper East Side bar before the wreck. And before the cops arrived, Williams scooted over into the passenger seat – as if to make it seem he wasn’t the driver.
He was charged with DWI.