Hearing reportedly delayed by travel
NEWARK, N.J. -- Retired NBA star Jayson Williams will not be in a New Jersey courtroom Friday to enter a plea in the 2002 shooting death of a hired driver.
A wife speaks
ESPN's Hannah Storm talked with Tanya Young Williams on Tuesday for "Outside The Lines." Williams says she's still in frequent contact with her husband, despite filing for divorce on Valentine's Day 2009. Williams also told ESPN Thursday that her husband has not accepted a deal. Among her comments:
On his problems: "Jayson has a mental illness or disorder ... If his lawyers have said bipolar I would agree with that. I would suggest that it is bipolar and probably other disorders, and for those disorders he needs help."
On Williams' attempt to cover up the shooting: "I think all of the actions are outrageous and nothing that anyone should be proud of. Knowing Jayson the way that I do, he wasn't thinking. He panicked and I think ... that is part of when I say a mental illness, not being able to process things, you go into almost a 'me mode' first. I don't think he was rational."
On what triggers Williams' behavior: "When Jayson has alcohol, and when I say drugs it would be a prescription drug or a sleeping pill, it affects him in such a bizarre way. ... I didn't know that and I think that it has gotten progressively ... worse."
On seeking counseling: "I think that's a tough hurdle for anyone but also for one who is a professional athlete who appears to have it all ... who can command an audience in a room of one or a thousand. He has that ability to do it. You could walk on a basketball floor and you have 40,000 people cheering for you and now they have to say 'You know what, I have a flaw. I need help.' That's tough."
On the future: "I hope for me and my [two daughters] that we come out unscathed. I hope for Jayson that he becomes healthy. I hope that the beautiful and the best parts of him are the parts that can control his life instead of the dark side that end up making the most noise."
State Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman indefinitely delayed a hearing in Somerville in which Williams was expected to plead guilty.
A person with direct knowledge of the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of a gag order imposed by Coleman, told The Associated Press that the delay was partly because of travel problems Williams experienced getting to New Jersey from his home in South Carolina.
A person with knowledge of the case told the AP on Thursday that Williams would plead guilty to aggravated assault in the death of limousine driver Costas Christofi. That would send him to prison for at least 18 months and up to three years.
Williams was acquitted of aggravated manslaughter in 2004 but convicted of covering up the shooting at his central New Jersey mansion.
The jury deadlocked on a reckless manslaughter count. He has been awaiting a second trial for reckless manslaughter, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
In a phone interview with ESPN on Friday morning, Williams' wife said her husband has not committed to a plea deal.
"I spoke with Jayson throughout the night and morning. He got very little sleep. He told me this morning that he will not be in New Jersey today and he has not signed any offer, but he is taking this very, very seriously," said Tanya Young Williams, who filed for divorce in February but says she is in frequent contact with Jayson Williams.
"Once he gets more clarity from his attorneys, he and I will have a discussion, he will speak with his mother and he will take the necessary next steps. Jayson is still in South Carolina dealing with the loss of his dad emotionally, as well as addressing the necessary estate issues."
Williams' father died Nov. 10 in South Carolina and was laid to rest last weekend.
Jayson Williams has been free on bail since the Feb. 14, 2002, shooting of Christofi. Williams paid more than $2 million in 2003 to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Christofi's family.
The 41-year-old Williams played nine seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets before a leg injury forced him to retire in 2000. He attempted a short-lived comeback in the minor league Continental Basketball Association in 2005.
Information from The Associated Press and Willie Weinbaum from ESPN's Enterprise Unit was used in this report.
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