The judge overseeing the retrial of former NBA star Jayson Williams ordered prosecutors yesterday to provide all details surrounding a racial slur made by an officer investigating the 2002 shotgun killing of a hired driver.
State Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman reviewed the material in his chambers in Newwark, N.J., with defense lawyers and prosecutors. He made no immediate ruling on what might be admissible.
Williams' defense team argued that prosecutors are obligated to give them all details about the incident, including the identity of the officer who made the slur and the person who heard the slur and subsequently filed an official complaint.
"We want to know: Who was that officer? What was his role in the investigation?" defense attorney Joseph Hayden said Thursday. "Who did he supervise? Who else was there? How were they impacted? Were they coerced or intimidated by comments like that? This is what we should have known five years ago.
"Was it indicative of an attitude toward Mr. Williams in the investigation, or just of that particular officer?"
Hunterdon County Prosecutor J. Patrick Barnes alerted the judge about the unspecified slur in a letter Oct. 18, telling him that a "superior officer" was accused of using a racial epithet to describe Williams in a meeting sometime before the 2004 trial. The letter did not name the officer or specify what was said.
The incident was referred to the state Division of Criminal Justice for investigation, which affirmed that the officer made the slur. The still-unnamed officer did not testify at the first trial and has since resigned.
Yesterday, prosecutors denied charges they acted improperly by failing to notify the defense team about the slur or the resulting investigation.
Williams, 39, was convicted in April 2004 on four counts stemming from a failed attempt to cover up the shooting but was acquitted of aggravated manslaughter. He is facing retrial on a reckless manslaughter count.
The retrial was scheduled for early next month.
* New security camera video shows a silver Chrysler 300 shadowing a Rolls-Royce belonging to Indiana Pacers guard Jamaal Tinsley shortly before someone fired an assault rifle at him.
Indianapolis police say they want to identify a woman who is seen in the video getting out of the Chrysler and walking into a gas station store early Sunday morning. Her face passes close to the camera.
* Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford was suspended for one game for a flagrant foul against Toronto's T.J. Ford. Ford was injured when Horford struck him on the head in Tuesday's game. Horford was ejected.