- The Washington Times - Monday, October 11, 2004

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A local chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been ordered to close because it did not prosecute former NBA star Jayson Williams over accusations that he fatally shot his dog in anger over losing a bet.

New Jersey SPCA president Stuart Rhodes, who issued the order, said the Hunterdon County chapter of the SPCA accepted a $500 donation from Mr. Williams two weeks after he shot his Rottweiler at his mansion in Alexandria, N.J., in August 2001.

A message seeking comment from Hunterdon SPCA Executive Director Tee Carlson was not returned yesterday.

Miss Carlson told the Star-Ledger of Newark that the order was being reviewed by the group’s lawyer.

“I was looking for her to explain reasons why she didn’t prosecute Jayson Williams,” Mr. Rhodes said. “She should have at least entered the charges. But by doing nothing, she allowed him to walk. And then you accept a donation?”

Mr. Williams, 36, was acquitted in April of aggravated manslaughter but found guilty of covering up the fatal shooting of a hired driver at his mansion in February 2002. The jury deadlocked on a reckless manslaughter count, and he is scheduled to be retried in January.

In New Jersey, as in some other states, the SPCA is vested with the legal power to investigate and prosecute animal-cruelty charges. In July, the state group charged Mr. Williams with animal cruelty in civil court.

Accusations that he shot his Rottweiler had come to light during jury selection at trial.

The case was brought in civil court because the one-year statute of limitations for a criminal charge of animal cruelty had expired. The civil count carries a maximum fine of $250. A criminal charge of animal cruelty would have carried up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Three weeks after the incident, a stricter law went into effect that carries up to three years in jail.

According to court papers, former Nets player Dwayne Schintzius told investigators that Mr. Williams bet him $100 that Mr. Schintzius could not drag the Rottweiler, Zeus, out of Mr. Williams’ house. Mr. Schintzius said he won the bet and that Mr. Williams killed Zeus with a shotgun.

The former teammate told investigators that Mr. Williams later pointed the gun at him and told him to clean up the dog’s remains “or you’re next.”

Mr. Williams’ attorneys have denied the charge. The trial judge barred the information from being heard by the jury in the manslaughter trial, ruling that it was too inflammatory.

A hearing on the civil cruelty case has been delayed until after the manslaughter charge is resolved.

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