SOMERVILLE, N.J. – The jury in Jayson Williams' (search) manslaughter trial was sent home Thursday so the judge could consider whether the prosecution improperly kept photo evidence from lawyers for the retired NBA (search) star.
The prosecution submitted 25 photos Thursday morning — the day after the defense rested — saying it was a mistake that they weren't produced earlier. Defense lawyer Joseph A. Hayden Jr. said the hearing would help him decide whether to seek a mistrial or ask to recall certain witnesses.
The photos were taken when a prosecution firearms expert, Larry Nelson, examined the shotgun that Williams was holding when it went off, killing chauffeur Costas "Gus" Christofi (search) in February 2002. A report by Nelson, without the photos, had been submitted to the defense last August.
Williams, 36, is charged with aggravated manslaughter, accused of recklessly handling of the shotgun that killed Christofi in Williams' Alexandria Township mansion.
He also is charged with trying to put the weapon in Christofi's hands, and then persuading his houseguests to lie by telling police they were downstairs when the driver shot himself.
The defense has claimed the shooting was an accident, asserting that Williams did not realize Christofi was in the room during the shooting, and that the weapon was prone to malfunction.
The defense rested Wednesday without calling the retired NBA star to the stand.
"I am innocent, I put my trust in God and I have great confidence in this jury," Williams told Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman.
Nelson was to testify before the jury Thursday as part of the prosecution rebuttal case. Instead, the judge considered the question of the late-arriving photos.
First Assistant Hunterdon County Prosecutor Steven C. Lember denied misconduct, saying any delay in providing the material was unintentional.
The defense had concluded its case after presenting five witnesses, including two weapons experts who testified that Williams' shotgun was worn and fouled and could have misfired.
However, both conceded under cross-examination that experts from both sides who test-fired the double-barreled shotgun could not get it to fire without pressure on the trigger.
Williams retired from the New Jersey Nets in 2000, unable to overcome the effects of a broken leg suffered a year earlier.