FLEMINGTON, N.J. – The prosecutor in the Jayson Williams (search) manslaughter case wants to retry the former NBA (search) star in the county where his limousine driver was killed. But his spokeswoman said the request was not legally valid.
In papers filed with the trial judge on Wednesday, First Assistant Hunterdon County Prosecutor Steven Lember argued that the retrial should be moved to Hunterdon County, where Costas Christofi (search) was slain by a blast from a shotgun handled by Williams.
"Just as the perceived existence of pretrial publicity led the court to change venue to Somerset County, the even-more extensive trial publicity in Somerset County necessitates a return to Hunterdon County," Lember wrote.
Judy Smith, a spokeswoman for Williams, said Lember "failed to make any substantial legal argument why there is a need to transfer the case."
Superior Court Judge Edward Coleman moved the first trial to Somerset County because of extensive pretrial publicity. Christofi died in 2002 in Williams' Alexandria Township mansion.
The 36-year-old Williams was acquitted in April of aggravated manslaughter, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, but was convicted on four counts related to his efforts to cover up the shooting.
The jury deadlocked on the remaining reckless manslaughter count and a mistrial was declared. Lember decided to retry the case on that one charge.
The retrial is scheduled to start Jan. 10 in Somerville.
If the judge denies Lember's request for a change of venue, the prosecutor has asked that a jury be brought in from a neighboring county with demographics similar to Hunterdon.
Lember will ask Coleman to reconsider his decision not to allow testimony about Williams' prior gun use, including the alleged shooting of his dog.
Former NBA teammate Dwayne Schintzius told investigators Williams shot the dog twice before pointing the reloaded weapon at Schintzius and ordering him to dispose of the animal.
Coleman ruled such testimony inadmissible because the shooting of the animal was intentional while the shooting of Christofi was unintentional. He also said the evidence was too inflammatory.
On Feb. 13, 2002, Williams invited several friends and members of the Harlem Globetrotters (search) to a postgame dinner followed by a tour of his mansion.
Christofi, 55, of Warren County, drove four Globetrotters from the game and was touring the house with the others when Williams took out a loaded shotgun and snapped it shut in Christofi's direction. The gun discharged and the bullet struck Christofi in the chest. He died within minutes.