Williams Co-Defendant Pleads Guilty
Aug. 23, 2002
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FLEMINGTON, N.J. (AP) _ A second man pleaded guilty Thursday to charges he helped cover up Jayson Williams' role in the shooting death of a limousine driver and will testify against the former NBA star.
John W. Gordnick told the judge he took the clothes Williams was wearing when the driver was shot, hid them in a car and didn't turn them over to authorities for several weeks.
``I guess I just saw Jayson in a difficult situation. I wasn't thinking straight and I, I reacted,'' Gordnick said.
He pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence, and prosecutors will recommend probation. He could have faced nearly 12 years in prison if convicted.
Williams, the former All-Star forward for the New Jersey Nets, has pleaded innocent to first-degree manslaughter and charges he tampered with witnesses and evidence in the driver's Feb. 14 shooting at his mansion.
Prosecutors accuse Williams of recklessly handling the 12-gauge shotgun that fired and hit Costas Christofi in the chest, then trying to make it look as if the driver fired the gun.
If convicted on all charges, Williams could face nearly 45 years in prison. He remains free on $270,000 bail. A status hearing was scheduled for early September.
Williams' other co-defendant also has agreed to testify against him. Kent Culuko pleaded guilty in April to tampering with evidence and witnesses. Culuko is a former NBA player who was waived by the Nets in 1997. Gordnick helps coach summer basketball camps operated by Culuko.
Christofi, 55, was invited inside Williams' mansion after picking up Williams' friends at a Harlem Globetrotters game in Bethlehem, Pa., prosecutors said.
Gordnick told the judge he walked into the room after the shooting and saw Williams standing naked, holding his clothes. At Williams' request, Gordnick said, he took them.
Williams, Gordnick and Culuko also allegedly tried to replace Williams' fingerprints on the shotgun with the victim's, and persuade other guests at the mansion to say Christofi was upstairs alone at the time of the shooting.
The 6-foot-10 Williams was among the NBA's best rebounders when leg injuries ended his career. He retired from the Nets in 2000.
After the shooting, Williams was suspended from his job as an NBA analyst for NBC.