Jayson Williams Sentenced to 5 Years Behind Bars

"I'm not a bad man, but I acted badly," says tearful Williams

By Tracie Strahan and Brian Thompson
|  Tuesday, Feb 23, 2010  |  Updated 11:46 AM CDT
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Jayson Williams Sentenced to 5 Years Behind Bars

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Former New Jersey Nets center Jayson Williams listens to testimony during his manslaughter trial April 20, 2004 in Somerville, New Jersey. Williams is accused of killing limousine driver Costas "Gus" Christofi.

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Former NJ Nets star Jayson Williams was sentenced Tuesday morning to five years behind bars for his role in the 2002 shooting of his limo driver Costas "Gus" Christofi. He must serve a minimum of 18 months before he can be eligible for parole.

Judge Edward Coleman accepted the plea deal Williams agreed to last month. In return for pleading guilty, the state changed the charge against him to aggravated assault instead of reckless manslaughter.

A remorseful Williams cried as he apologized to his family and begged for forgiveness.

"Forgive me for the pain I have caused," said a tearful Williams in the New Jersey court. "You deserve a better father, brother, son than I have been."

Williams was acquitted of aggravated manslaughter in 2004 but convicted on four counts of covering up the shooting. His sentence for those convictions will run concurrent to the assault sentence.

Prosecutors say it's about time Williams face the consequences of his behavior.
 
"Mr. Williams has a dark side," said Steven Farman of the State Attorney General's office. " With wealth and fame comes responsibility. It is time, after eight long years, for Mr. Christofi's voice to be heard."

Farman added that in Williams' bedroom was "an arsenal of weapons to arm a small militia -- There's a reason why we call it a deadly weapon."

Williams apologized profusely to the Christofi family, saying he's visited the dead man's grave more times than he has his own father's.

"From my heart there's not a day I don't wake up and feel sorry for what I did to Mr. Christofi," Williams said. "I'm not a bad man, but I acted badly."

Free on bail since pleading guilty last month, Williams, who turned 42 on Monday, has been wearing an alcohol monitoring bracelet as ordered by a judge.

This after being charged with drunk driving for crashing his SUV in Manhattan.

Judge Coleman told Williams in court that he blames alcohol "for you being here today."

Williams will reportedly be transported to a facility in Trenton. After spending time there, authorities will decide the location where he'll serve his sentence.

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