SOMERVILLE, N.J. - Four shotguns and a rifle seized from the home of Jayson Williams were shown to jurors Wednesday during the former NBA star’s trial in the shooting death of a limousine driver.
Investigators took the weapons from a gun cabinet in the bedroom where Costas “Gus” Christofi was shot on Feb. 14, 2002.
Williams, a retired center for the New Jersey Nets, is accused of aggravated manslaughter. He is also charged with trying to make the shooting resemble a suicide and persuading witnesses to lie to police.
Williams’ defense maintains that the shotgun went off accidentally as he handled it while giving friends and Christofi a tour of his 40-room home in rural western New Jersey.
Two of the shotguns were loaded when found. The rifle contained five rounds, state police Detective Christopher Wagner said.
Investigators also collected 47 loose shotgun shells and two spent shells, one of which was in the weapon that killed Christofi. That shotgun as introduced into evidence last week.
Jurors also saw the bloody shirt and T-shirt worn by the victim and a bloody fragment of carpet from the bedroom.
Another detective, John Garkowski, said he discounted suicide after seeing Christofi’s body in the master bedroom of Williams’ mansion.
“It would have been impossible for Mr. Christofi to give himself that wound with that shotgun,” Garkowski said.
Jurors were shown a picture, taken during an autopsy, of the trooper holding a weapon of similar size along the victim’s arm. Christofi’s fingers fell about a half-foot short of the trigger.
No fingerprints were found on the shotgun that Williams is accused of using to shoot Christofi, Garkowski said.
The fingerprint evidence is important because prosecutor Steven C. Lember has told the jury that Williams put the shotgun in the dying man’s hands and later wiped it clean. Two of Williams’ friends pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence at Williams’ request, one for wiping down the shotgun that killed Christofi and the other for hiding Williams’ clothes.
Williams, 35, faces eight charges, including aggravated manslaughter and witness tampering, that could carry up to 55 years in prison. The least of the charges carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison, but would likely result in probation.
Williams retired from the Nets in 2000 after a decade in the NBA. He was suspended from his job as an NBA analyst for NBC after the shooting.
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