SOMERVILLE, N.J. – Twelve jurors looked at Jayson Williams (search) over the last 12 weeks, and only a handful saw a killer.
None voted to convict him Friday of aggravated manslaughter, the most serious charge in the eight-count indictment. And eight voted not guilty on the second charge, reckless manslaughter, leading to a mistrial on that count.
"I never looked over there and saw a cold-blooded killer," said Angela Pravata, juror No. 2.
Several jurors said afterward that they accepted the defense arguments that the shotgun shooting of a driver was unintentional and that the weapon misfired.
"Jayson Williams is not a criminal," said juror No. 4, Ann Stengel. "Was he negligent? Yes. Should he have known better? Yes."
The jury nonetheless convicted the retired NBA (search) star of all cover-up charges he faced, including witness and evidence tampering.
"After the fact, he took bad advice from people — I can't call them friends — he took bad advice," said Stengel, a project manager for a financial services firm.
She and Tonja Poto, juror No. 13, were among the eight not guilty votes. "It wasn't reckless, it was negligence," said Poto.
Although some decisions came easily, others, such as aggravated manslaughter, did not. Lily Shahidi, juror No. 5, said that decision involved "just talking and talking and talking until we were blue in the face."
No juror said they gave any credibility to Benoit Benjamin (search), a former New Jersey Nets teammate of Williams, who was the only prosecution witness who said he saw Williams pull the trigger.
"He stumbled a lot through his testimony. He had an agenda," Pravata said.