Defense Rests for Jayson Williams Trial

04/01/2004 3:50PM

Citing the advice of his counsel, wife and God, former New Jersey Nets basketball star Jayson Williams declined to take the witness stand Wednesday, as his defense team rested its case in the eight-week-old trial.

Williams, who is on trial for the Feb. 14, 2002, shooting death of 55-year-old limousine driver Costas "Gus" Christofi, said he would leave the question of his guilt up to jurors, the Associated Press reports.

"I am innocent. I put my trust in God and I have great confidence in this jury," Williams said.

The 36-year-old retired hoops star is facing eight charges, including aggravated manslaughter. The prosecution maintains that Williams accidentally shot Christofi and then tried to make it appear as if the driver killed himself. The defense claims that Williams was not aware Christofi was in the room when Williams picked up the weapon and it accidentally discharged.

The prosecution presented 36 witnesses, including members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team who were present at the time. The defense team offered up only five witnesses, choosing instead to focus on discrediting the prosecution's testimony.

If convicted, Williams could face up to 55 years in prison. He retired from the NBA in 2000, and was suspended from his job as an analyst after the shooting.

On Thursday, the prosecution is expected to call a rebuttal witness, and closing arguments could begin as soon as Tuesday.

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