NYP: Defense lawyers for ex-NBA star Jayson Williams want to withdraw from his New Jersey manslaughter case, saying they recently have been unable to communicate with him, a source familiar with the situation told The Post today.
Those lawyers were in Somerset County Court this morning arguing that point. But Williams told Judge Edward Coleman he wants them to continue handling his case given the amount of money he has paid them to date, and the time they have invested in it.
Coleman reserved making a decision on the defense lawyers’ request to quit, set a Jan. 11 hearing on the issue, and urged the former Nets player Williams to speak directly with his attorneys. That date already was set to be the start of jury selection in Williams’ re-trial for the February 2002 shotgun killing of limo driver Costas “Gus” Christofi in his Alexandria Township, NJ, mansion.
Williams’ behavior has been increasingly erratic over the past year as he has weighed pleading guilty in the long-pending case and serving a relatively brief prison sentence. He was hospitalized earlier in the year after a suicidal outburst in a Manhattan hotel that resulted in him being Tasered by police, and also was accused of physical and emotional abuse by his wife, Tanya, in a divorce action that she filed.
Last month, he failed to show up in court for a scheduled plea deal that would require him to serve at least 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to the reduced charged of aggravated assault.
It is not known if that plea offer, which was made by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, is still pending. A spokesman for the office declined to comment, citing a gag order in the case.
If Williams risks going to trial, he faces the possibility that he will receive a much longer sentence if convicted of the manslaughter count. He has yet to be sentenced for his 2004 conviction by a jury for crimes related to his efforts to cover up his role in killing Christofi.
The jury in that trial deadlocked on the count of reckless manslaughter, which is why he is scheduled to be retried.
A lawyer for Williams did not return a request for comment today