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Wednesday, February 20
 
Limo driver's family looking for answers

Associated Press

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- An autopsy on the limousine driver shot at former NBA star Jayson Williams' mansion confirmed the death was not a suicide, a medical examiner said Wednesday.

Book details earlier shooting
incident at Williams' estate
The death of Jayson Williams' limousine driver apparently is not the first time there has been a shooting incident at Williams' estate.

In Williams' book, "Loose Balls," written in 2000 with the help of Steve Friedman, Williams tells how he nearly shot Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet while target shooting a .50 caliber Desert Eagle with Chrebet, Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn and some other friends of Williams.

"It was my turn (to shoot), and just as I shot, I heard something behind me, and I looked backward," Williams states in the book. "What I didn't realize was that Wayne was right in front of me, kneeling down to pick up one of the cartridges, because he couldn't believe how big it was. So when I fired the gun, it must have been just a few inches from Wayne's face, 'cause the noise knocked him out. Cold. I looked down, and there's Wayne lying there, with gunpowder all over his face. Jason looked at Wayne, and at me, and he tears into the house. I send my boys in to see what's wrong, to make sure he's OK.

"I'm sitting there with Wayne, shaking him, and after about thirty seconds, he comes to. He's a tough little guy. And by that time, Jason is peeking his head out one of the windows. But he won't come outside. So I go in, and there's Jason sitting with my boys. Jason says, "Jay, can I speak to you in a moment, in private?" We go into another room. We both sit down.

" 'If Wayne was dead,' he says, 'your boys would have killed me, wouldn't they? That's what you sent them in here for, wasn't it?' I look at this guy, and I can't believe it. I'm doing my best to keep from laughing. And I say, with a straight face, 'Yeah, man, they sure would have. They would have had to silence you. Cause I don't think you could have held that secret.' "

No one has been arrested or charged in the death of Costas Christofi, which is entirely unrelated to the incident Williams details in his book. Williams' lawyer has denied that Williams was involved in "any horseplay with a gun" on the morning Christofi was shot.
-- ESPN.com news services

Costas Christofi died from a gunshot "at intermediate range," Hunterdon County medical examiner Steven Diamond said.

Christofi was found dead Feb. 14 in a bedroom at Williams' Alexandria Township estate, with a shotgun wound to his chest. Authorities have not said who was holding the gun when it went off. Joseph Hayden, Williams' lawyer, has denied published reports quoting unidentified sources who said Williams was spinning a gun around during a tour of his home and it accidentally discharged, striking Christofi.

Diamond, still waiting for toxicology results, declined to discuss the angle of the wound or whether there was any appearance of a struggle. He said the death is officially listed as a homicide, the legal term for a killing that does not indicate whether it was intentional or accidental.

Acting Hunterdon County Prosecutor Steven C. Lember said Tuesday that no decision has been made on whether charges will be filed.

Williams' home telephone number has been disconnected and Hayden has not returned telephone messages for several days. Lember did not immediately return a telephone call Thursday.

Williams hired Christofi to take friends from a charity sporting event featuring the Harlem Globetrotters in Bethlehem, Pa., to a restaurant, and then to Williams' home, about 30 miles northwest of Trenton.

Published reports have said Williams was showing off his shotgun and flipping it around when it discharged, but his lawyer has denied that Williams was involved in "any horseplay with a gun." Lember would not say whether Williams has spoken with investigators.

Williams' lawyer, Joseph Hayden, declined to speak with a reporter Wednesday.

At Christofi's funeral service Wednesday, a clergyman eulogized him as a man who turned his life around and questioned why the death remains unexplained.

About 60 mourners walked in a procession past the closed coffin during the funeral at Piscataway's St. George Greek Orthodox Church. His sister, Andrea Adams, paused and sobbed.

"A spirit of repentance is the most important quality for any Christian to have," the Rev. John Theodosion told mourners. Christofi, a convicted burglar, had overcome a drug addiction.

"There are occasions in life and death which make us cry out, `Why?"' Theodosion said.

After the service, Theodosion said the family remains puzzled. "They're looking for answers as well. They're in the dark," he said.

Robert Kise, a limousine dispatcher who sent Christofi to the job with Williams, also questioned why they still knew so little about the incident.

"We know for a fact there was a lot of people in the room," Kise said. "It's a week later. If you have a lot of people in the room and someone was dead, someone should have pulled the trigger and it should not be a secret by this time."

Since the shooting, Williams has been taking long walks around his property with his father, E.J., who helped him build the house. His wife said they were comfortable with the progress of the investigation.

"I believe in God. I love my husband. I trust my attorney. I respect the professionalism of the prosecutor," Tanya Williams said. She also expressed sympathy for Christofi's family and friends, saying "we will definitely reach out" to those affected.

Jayson Williams, who was among the NBA's best rebounders before leg injuries ended his basketball career in 1999, now works for NBC Sports as an NBA studio analyst.

A spokeswoman for NBC Sports said no announcement has been made on whether Williams will be part of the next NBC basketball telecast March 3.




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