KINGWOOD, N.J. – Former NBA star Jayson Williams was charged with manslaughter Monday in the fatal shooting of a limousine driver at his sprawling mansion.
If convicted, the popular basketball player-turned-broadcaster could face five to 15 years in prison.
The 34-year-old NBC sports commentator turned himself in to police in the morning, using a back entrance into the state police barracks.
He had no comment as he entered or left the building. He was freed on $250,000 bail.
Costas Christofi, 55, was found shot to death at Williams' 65-acre estate in Alexandria Township on Feb. 14. Published reports have said Williams was playfully twirling a shotgun while giving a tour of his mansion when the weapon went off.
"The death of Mr. Christofi was a tragic accident but it was an accident," Williams' attorney Joseph Hayden said. "We are very confident that after a full, fair and thorough exploration of all the facts it will be clear that Mr. Williams is innocent of recklessness and innocent of any criminal conduct."
Williams' brother and 11 other guests, including four players from the Harlem Globetrotters and a 14-year-old and 6-year-old, were at the house the night of the shooting.
Initially, some of his guests reported the death as a suicide. After an autopsy, the medical examiner ruled the shooting a homicide.
"We are most interested in getting to the truth in this case. Those witnesses should come forward and do the right thing. If they do, they have nothing to be concerned about," said Acting Hunter County Prosecutor Steven Lember.
He said it was "tragic and it may even have been an accident," but it nonetheless amounted to manslaughter.
Earlier, Lember told the New York Daily News that his office also was investigating whether Williams allowed Christofi to bleed to death before authorities were notified.
Hayden has denied there was any horseplay prior to the shooting, and has not commented on who was holding the gun.
Christofi had been hired to drive Williams' friends from a charity event in Bethlehem, Pa., to Williams' home, about 30 miles northwest of Trenton.
The 6-foot-10 Williams was once among the NBA's best rebounders, but leg injuries ended his basketball career. He retired from the New Jersey Nets in 2000 and now works for NBC Sports as an NBA analyst.
"We've been unable to get in contact with Jayson's representatives and feel it's inappropriate to comment until we do so," NBC Sports Vice President Kevin Sullivan said.
Williams has freely admitted past mistakes, describing them in a 2000 autobiography as "a lot of beers and barroom brawls and some scrapes with the law and too many fights and some yelling matches with coaches and a bunch of headlines."
In 1992, he was accused of smashing a beer mug over a patron's head at a Chicago bar. Two years later, he was accused of firing a semiautomatic weapon into the parking lot at the Meadowlands sports complex.
He wrote in his autobiography that he almost shot New York Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet while firing a shotgun on his skeet-shooting range. And Williams faces a hearing this week on a charge that he pushed a police officer last November in a New Jersey bar.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.