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Williams manslaughter trial suspended
Updated: 2004-04-06 09:15

The judge suspended the Jayson Williams manslaughter trial for a week Monday after lawyers for the retired NBA star said they needed time to review new evidence they received from prosecutors over the weekend.

Jayson Williams, right, and his wife, Tanya, leave the Somerset County Court House, Wednesday, March 31, 2004. Just as Williams' manslaughter trial was moving toward deliberations after eight contentious weeks of testimony, it got derailed. [AP]
Defense lawyers said they might seek a mistrial over the evidence dispute, which started last week when the prosecution said it had discovered 25 photographs and notes from its weapons expert that it was obligated to send to the defense months ago.

Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman told the prosecution and its weapons expert to check over the weekend for any other material that should be turned over.

Some 96 pages of new material were received by Sunday morning, defense lawyer Joseph A. Hayden Jr. told the judge Monday. The defense needs time to consult with its experts, including a lawyer specializing in prosecutorial misconduct, Hayden said.

Assistant Prosecutor Katharine Errickson denied that all the material is new, saying some of it has already been handed over. Prosecutors have denied any misconduct, saying the delay in providing the material was unintentional.

The trial, which began Feb. 10, was scheduled to resume April 12, when the defense is to announce what remedies or sanctions it seeks. Closing arguments had been scheduled to begin this week.

Evidence about Williams' shotgun is key to the defense, which maintains that the weapon misfired when Williams snapped it shut while showing friends his mansion early Feb. 14, 2002, killing a hired driver.

Williams, 36, is charged with recklessly handling the gun, which killed Costas "Gus" Christofi, 55. The shooting happened in Williams' bedroom at his Alexandria Township home on Feb. 14, 2002.

Williams faces eight charges, the most serious of which is aggravated manslaughter. Collectively, they carry up to 55 years in prison. The least of the charges carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison, but would likely result in probation.

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