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Former basketball star Williams scheduled to make first court appearance on shooting charges

(TRENTON, N.J.) - Prosecutors have said little about the fatal shooting of a limousine driver at Jayson Williams' estate, except that they believe the former basketball star was recklessly handling the shotgun.

Williams, charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death of Costas Christofi, is scheduled to make his first court appearance Monday.

If he enters a plea at the hearing, it will be innocent, his attorney, Joseph Hayden, said Friday.

Neither the prosecution nor the defense has said much about what happened early on the morning of Feb. 14, when Christofi was fatally shot at Williams' mansion 30 miles northwest of Trenton.

Christofi had been hired to drive Williams' friends from a Harlem Globetrotters show at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., to a restaurant in Asbury, and then to Williams' 65-acre estate.

When they arrived, Christofi was apparently invited on a tour of the 40-room mansion, Acting Hunterdon County Prosecutor Steven C. Lember said. He said the shooting happened less than an hour after the group reached the home, but he wouldn't say at what time.

The 911 call came in at 2:54 a.m., reporting a suicide.

A manager at the restaurant in Asbury said he didn't know what time the group arrived or left, and Christofi's boss declined to even say exactly when Williams called for a limousine on Feb. 13 for fear of affecting the case.

Sam Nenna, owner of Seventy-Eight Limousine, said only that the call came in five minutes after Christofi arrived at the Pittstown office.

The limousine driver jumped at the chance to meet Williams.

``Who wouldn't?'' Nenna asked.

Many other questions remain about the shooting.

Although Lember said Williams was charged with manslaughter because of the way he allegedly handled the 12-gauge shotgun, the prosecutor will not describe what Williams was doing with the gun.

Lember also has said there were reasons to believe that alcohol ``is something we need to look into,'' but he would not say whether Williams was drinking before the shooting.

Television station WNBC in New York, citing unidentified investigators, reported Friday that Williams' blood-alcohol content that night was above .10, the level at which drivers are considered legally drunk in New Jersey.

Neither Lember nor Hayden immediately returned messages left at their homes Saturday.

Lember also has said that investigators planned to re-interview some witnesses, who ``were not forthright'' the day of the shooting.

The prosecutor has said Williams' brother reported the death as a suicide in the 911 call.

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