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Report: Williams Tampered With Prints

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ Jayson Williams tampered with evidence in the shooting death of a limousine driver he was later charged with killing, Sports Illustrated reported this week.

A witness told the magazine that former NBA star tried to put the victim's palm and fingerprints on the shotgun, then disposed of his own bloody clothes before police arrived. The magazine did not identify the witness.

Prosecutors have said Williams' adopted brother, Victor Santiago, initially reported the death as a suicide.

Outside of correcting the time the 911 call came in _ 2:54 a.m., not 2:38 a.m. as the magazine reported _ Acting Hunterdon County Prosecutor Steven C. Lember declined to comment on the story.

But the prosecutor said the Sports Illustrated article and other media reports based on unidentified sources have done nothing to hurt the case except force him to devote time to press inquiries.

``We just keep going about our business day by day,'' Lember said.

Williams' attorney, Joseph Hayden, said he would ``address all relevant facts and allegations within the criminal justice system.''

``As I have said all along, we'll address the relevant issues when we have our day in court,'' Hayden told The Associated Press.

Williams is charged with second-degree manslaughter in the Feb. 14 shooting death of Costas Christofi. He could face five to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Christofi, 55, of Washington Borough, was hired to drive Williams' friends from a Harlem Globetrotters show in Bethlehem, Pa., to a restaurant, then to Williams' estate 30 miles northwest of Trenton.

Williams, Christofi and a dozen other people were at the house when the shooting occurred, including Williams' brother, two children and four members of the Globetrotters.

Neither the prosecution nor the defense has described the events that led to the shooting or identified those inside the house at the time.

The magazine reported that the Globetrotters in the home were Chris Morris, Benoit Benjamin, Paul Gaffney and Curley Johnson.

Christofi was shot in the master bedroom. Several visitors, hearing the gun go off, rushed into the room and found Christofi slumped against a wall, the magazine reported.

Williams screamed for someone to perform CPR on Christofi and began pressing on the driver's chest, feeling for a pulse and talking to him, the magazine reported. A witness told the magazine that Christofi ``looked like he was in shock, then all of a sudden he was dead.''

At about the same time, some of Williams' guests saw him and one other man trying to place Christofi's palm print and fingerprints on the shotgun, Sports Illustrated quoted the unidentified witness as saying.

Two Globetrotters have been given immunity by prosecutors in exchange for detailed testimony, the magazine reported. It did not identify them.

In a news release issued Tuesday night, the Harlem Globetrotters said the players present during the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave and were encouraged to cooperate with the investigation.

The release did not confirm which players were present or say exactly when the players were placed on leave.

Williams made an initial court appearance Monday on the manslaughter charge. He did not enter a plea and is not required to do so until a grand jury indicts him.

Outside the courtroom, he spoke publicly for the first time since the shooting, offering his condolences to Christofi's family.

The 6-foot-10 Williams was among the NBA's best rebounders until leg injuries forced him to retire from the New Jersey Nets in 2000.

He started working this year as an NBA studio analyst for NBC Sports, but the network said last week that Williams will not appear on the air until the charges against him are resolved.
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