Jayson Williams' Drunk Driving Case: Former NBA Star Had Blood-Alcohol Level More Than Twice The Limit
NEW YORK Former NBA star Jayson Williams had a blood-alcohol level more than double the legal limit after he crashed his car into a tree in Manhattan last month, prosecutors said in newly filed court documents.
His level was 0.19, according to the filing. In New York, the driving-while-intoxicated threshold is 0.08.
Williams has pleaded not guilty to drunken-driving charges in the Jan. 5 wreck, which slammed his head through the windshield of his black Mercedes-Benz SUV, prosecutors say. They say he veered across four lanes of oncoming traffic before smashing into a tree at an exit from Manhattan's FDR Drive around 3:15 a.m., according to a court complaint.
Defense lawyer Linda Kenney Baden said Wednesday "there are a lot of issues" in contention, including whether Williams was driving. He initially told police the driver had left the accident scene, but prosecutors say surveillance video and witnesses establish that he was alone in the car.
After being taken to Bellevue Hospital where his blood was drawn for the test, Williams told officers: "I'm sorry for causing trouble," prosecutors say.
The accident happened about a week before the former New Jersey Nets player pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for accidentally shooting and killing his limousine driver in 2002. He told a judge he was reckless in handling a shotgun he was showing off to friends.
Williams, 41, is due to be sentenced next week in the shooting. He's expected to get 18 months in prison for the aggravated assault charge and up to five years for a prior conviction of trying to cover up the crime.
The Manhattan District Attorney's office wants Williams to serve a year in jail – the maximum DWI punishment – after his New Jersey sentence, according to court papers outlining what prosecutors would recommend should he plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge.
If he were allowed to serve both sentences at the same time, he would end up with "the equivalent of no jail sentence at all," Assistant District Attorney William Beesch wrote in the document, dated Feb. 11.
Kenney Baden said Williams hasn't decided on any potential guilty plea, and she called the idea of consecutive sentences unnecessary and unfair.
Given that he has agreed to go to prison on the more serious New Jersey charges, "this is much ado about nothing," she said. "It's the tail wagging the dog here."
Williams played nine seasons with the Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers before a leg injury forced him to retire from the Nets in 2000. He was in the second year of a six-year, $86 million contract.
He became an NBA analyst for NBC but was suspended after the 2002 shooting, which killed driver Costas Christofi. Witnesses said Williams initially put the gun in the dead man's hands and told those present to lie about what happened.
The DWI case follows a rocky year for Williams. His wife filed for divorce, and police used a stun gun on him in a New York hotel in April after a female friend said he was acting suicidal. He was charged with assault in May after being accused of punching a man in the face outside a North Carolina bar, but the charges were dropped.
In November, Williams' father, E.J., died in South Carolina. The father and son owned a construction business together.