Williams charged while in hospital bed

Updated: January 5, 2010, 2:38 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- New York City police say former NBA player Jayson Williams has been charged with drunken driving after his SUV struck a tree in Manhattan.

Williams suffered a minor bone fracture in his neck and cuts to his face. Police say it appeared Williams was drinking before the accident at 3:15 a.m. ET Tuesday on a northbound exit of FDR Drive. He was charged at his hospital bed.

Williams was in the passenger seat when officers arrived. But witnesses told police they saw him on the driver's side. Officers say no one else was in the car.

The black Mercedes-Benz SUV was exiting FDR Drive at East 20th Street in Manhattan when it veered off the curved exit, authorities said.

Williams was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he refused a breath test, authorities said. Police asked for a warrant to test blood taken by hospital officials for alcohol content.

[+] EnlargeJayson Williams
AP Photo/Keith MuccilliJayson Williams is still awaiting retrial on a manslaughter charge in the 2002 death of limousine driver Costas Christofi.

It's not clear when he would be discharged from the hospital. Police charged him with drunken driving at his hospital bed.

The name of his attorney was not immediately on record. His former agent and publicist did not return calls seeking comment.

Last month, lawyers in New Jersey asked to be removed from his defense against a reckless manslaughter charge stemming from a 2002 shooting. A hearing on whether they would be released is scheduled for Jan. 11.

Williams retired from the New Jersey Nets in 2000 after a decade in the NBA, unable to overcome a broken leg suffered a year earlier. At the time, he was in the second year of a six-year, $86 million contract.

He was later an NBA analyst for NBC, but was suspended after a hired driver was shot to death in his house in February 2002.

Witnesses testified that Williams had been drinking and was showing off a shotgun in his bedroom in February 2002 when he snapped the weapon shut and it fired one shot that struck a hired driver, Costas Christofi, in the chest. They also testified that Williams initially placed the gun in the dead man's hands and instructed those present to lie about what happened.

The defense maintained the shooting was an accident and that Williams panicked afterward.

The jury deadlocked on the reckless manslaughter count, acquitted Williams of aggravated manslaughter and convicted him of covering up the shooting. He was never sentenced for the cover-up counts, pending the outcome of the retrial, and has remained free on bail.

He is scheduled to be retried on the reckless manslaughter charge. A hearing set for November 2009 to enter a plea in that case was indefinitely postponed by New Jersey State Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman.

The New Jersey attorney general's office, which is handling the retrial, wouldn't comment on whether it would try to have Williams' bail revoked. Any potential bail issues could be addressed at Williams' next court date, scheduled for Monday.

Williams suffered a series of further setbacks last year. His wife filed for divorce, and police used a stun gun on him in a New York hotel after a female friend said he was acting suicidal.

He was charged with assault in May after allegedly punching a man in the face outside a North Carolina bar, but charges were dropped.

In November, Williams' father, E.J., with whom he owned a construction business, died in South Carolina.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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