Jayson Williams, the former New Jersey Nets basketball star who killed his limo driver with a shotgun in 2002 and then tried to cover it up, was sentenced today to five years in prison. But under a plea deal with New Jersey prosecutors, he’ll be eligible for parole in only 18 months.
It can’t be confirmed that Williams chose prison over resuming his career with the hapless, deeply depressed Nets, who at 5-51 are on pace for the worst record in NBA history.
Williams shed tears in the courtroom Tuesday about killing Costas “Gus” Christofi in the athlete’s New Jersey mansion in February 2002. “I’m terribly sorry,” he told the family (video here). But that didn’t cut it with Christofi’s sister Andrea Adams, whose letter to the court, the Post reports, included this:
After destroying Christofi’s life, he has turned to self-destructive behavior, going berserk in Battery Park City last spring; cops had to taser him and take him to the psychiatric ward.
This past December, Williams’s lawyers in the homicide case were so frustrated about the normally gabby athlete’s refusing to talk with them that they asked a judge to remove them from the case.
On January 5, a dead-drunk Williams wrapped his Mercedes SUV around a tree in Stuy-Town and nearly broke his neck.
Six days later, he signed off on the plea agreement in the Christofi case.
Back in 2003, Williams paid Christofi’s family $2.75 million to settle a wrongful-death civil suit. In 2004, Williams was acquitted of aggravated manslaughter and found guilty of lesser charges relating only to the coverup. Prosecutors then prepared to retry Williams for reckless manslaughter. He wound up pleading to aggravated assault.
Timeline of the crime here.