Hey, congratulations, Jayson Williams.
Looks like you won't be going to the clink for shooting and killing that limousine driver. All the jury nailed you for was covering up something the jury said wasn't a crime. Neat trick, huh?
You beat the most serious charges. Unless they retry you for the reckless manslaughter thing (the jury was deadlocked) you might only do some house arrest. And since you live in a 31,000-square-foot mansion on a 65-acre lot with two par-3 golf holes, a skeet range and an ATV track—paid for courtesy of the New Jersey Nets—that ain't exactly Leavenworth.
But before you go on with your life, some of us just want to let you know a few things about the man you shot dead and then tried to tar as a suicide.
See, that's the funny thing. Gus Christofi was about as far from suicide that day as a man could be. The day before you blasted him with your shotgun, his sister agreed to cosign a loan for him. Gus was so pumped. He was going to own his first house. At age 55.
Gus's life really didn't begin until about 10 years ago, when he finally beat alcoholism and heroin addiction. He went to a New Jersey rehab center called Freedom House for 18 months and emerged such a changed man that the place hired him as a counselor. Recovering addicts could count on Gus to take the phone call, jump in his beat-up old Plymouth and come over with enough coffee and patience and love to get them through a wicked night.
You should've seen the funeral, Jayson. It was packed. Hundreds of people, many of whom Gus's relatives didn't even know. "I can't even tell you how many people came up to me and said, 'Your uncle saved my life,' " says Anthony Christofi Jr., Gus's nephew. "Or they said, 'Your uncle saved my boy's life.' It was amazing."
How's that for irony? You, a guy whose blood-alcohol level was still over the legal limit eight hours after the shooting, killed a guy who thought he was finally safe from booze. Boy, was he wrong.
Really, life was just about as good as it had ever been for Gus that night. He was sober, reunited with his family and doing great at the limo company. In fact, he was so well-liked there that when the job came up to drive your party from a Globetrotters game to a restaurant, the owner surprised Gus with the trip, seeing as how Gus was such a huge sports fan.
Gus even bought one of those little disposable cameras to take a few pictures. Of course, maybe it wasn't such a Kodak moment when you—as people later testified—made fun of Gus, swore at him, called him a "stoolie" and a "fed," and, when Gus got up to leave the restaurant, told him, "Sit back down and get your shine box, kid." Then you said, "I'm only kidding with you, man." Hilarious.