- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2002

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) Jayson Williams is out for now as an NBA analyst for NBC Sports.
The former NBA All-Star has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of a limousine driver. Williams surrendered to authorities Monday and is free on $250,000 bail.
"NBC Sports and Jayson Williams have reached mutual agreement that it's best for Jayson to focus on his personal issues and to not be on the air until those issues are resolved," the network said yesterday.
The case against Williams probably will not be resolved quickly. A prosecutor said he does not expect to present the case to a Hunterdon County grand jury for several months.
In his first season with NBC, Williams is known for his humorous style. He had been scheduled to appear on the network Sunday.
Marv Albert, NBC's lead NBA play-by-play announcer, was fired within hours of pleading guilty to assault and battery in September 1997. He had continued to work for NBC after being indicted that May. Albert returned to NBC in 1999.
Acting county prosecutor Steven C. Lember planned to argue that Williams recklessly handled the shotgun that killed Costas Christofi, 55, of Washington Borough.
Williams' lawyer, Joseph Hayden, has called the shooting "a tragic accident," and said the facts of the case would make it clear that Williams was innocent of recklessness or any criminal conduct. An arraignment is scheduled for Monday.
It's not the first time Williams has been accused of handling a gun recklessly. He was charged with reckless endangerment and possession of a weapon in 1994 after shots were fired at an unoccupied security vehicle outside the Nets' arena in the East Rutherford.
Williams never admitted firing the .40-caliber handgun at the truck.
He spent the next year preaching gun safety to high school students and placing advertisements in the Record of Hackensack as part of a pretrial intervention program that helped him avoid a felony conviction.
Williams completed the program a year later and the charges against him were dismissed.
Former Bergen County Prosecutor John Fahy, who opposed the agreement, has noted a felony conviction would have barred Williams from owning firearms. The gun that killed Christofi belonged to Williams.
Christofi was hired to drive several of Williams' friends from a Bethlehem, Pa., event featuring the Harlem Globetrotters to a restaurant, and then to Williams' home 30 miles northwest of Trenton.
After arriving at the Alexandria Township estate, Williams gave his guests a tour of the 40-room mansion, which has a bowling alley, a movie theater and a skeet-shooting range.
According to the criminal complaint, witnesses said Williams was the only person near Christofi when the shotgun discharged.
Twelve other people were at the mansion at the time, including four Globetrotters, Lember said.
Brett Meister, spokesman for the Globetrotters in Phoenix, Ariz., would not identify the four.
"Two of the four were former teammates, from when he was with the Nets," Meister said. "They were invited out to dinner and then back for a tour of the estate."
He said he did not know if they were in the room when the shooting occurred, but said all four cooperated with police at the scene.
If convicted of second-degree manslaughter, Williams could be sentenced to five to 10 years in prison. The charge could be raised to aggravated manslaughter if investigators find evidence of extreme indifference to human life, Lember said.
The 6-foot-10 Williams was among the NBA's best rebounders until leg injuries ended his career. He retired from the New Jersey Nets in 2000.
In his autobiography, Williams freely admitted past mistakes.
In 1992, he was accused of smashing a beer mug over a patron's head at a Chicago bar. He also wrote in his book that he almost shot New York Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet while firing a handgun on his shooting range.
And Williams is scheduled to appear in another New Jersey court on a charge that he pushed a police officer in November in a bar. That hearing has been delayed until April17.

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