Early ballistics encouraging for Simon

While Orioles reliever Alfredo Simon remains in police
custody in Santiago, Dominican Republic, his lawyer said Tuesday that a
preliminary forensics report on the weapon in question absolves his client from
the New Year’s Eve killing in Luperon.

“The ballistics tests have been favorable,” lawyer
Carlos Olivares told CNN in a telephone interview. “We are waiting for the
formal report.”

Oliveras has appealed Monday’s decision to hold the 29-year-old Simon for a
year, telling the news service that “we know that [Simon] had nothing to
do with this victim”.  Police
involved in investigations have expressed skepticism over the initial ballistics
report and said that these cases usually take six months to fully look into.

Simon’s cousin, Michael Esteban Castillo Almonte, was killed in the
shooting, and Simon -who turned in his gun on Monday  – told police he had been firing celebratory
shots into the air and that Almonte’s death and the wounding of his 17-year-old
sibling were accidents. Oliveras has maintained that his client is innocent
since Simon fired the gun into the air and the victim was struck in the chest.

Oliveras said Simon fired the gun into the air and then left the park where
the killing occurred oblivious to what had happened.

“He understood that nothing had happened at the moment. And 45 minutes
later, when he was eating at some restaurant or discotheque, somebody tells
him, ‘Hey, you’re the one who killed so-and-so,’” Olivares said, according
to accounts by the Dominican media.

“The fact is that in this incident, many people fired guns, but the
only person who’s been summoned for this is my client.”

The wounded victim, Starlin Castillo Hernandez told the Dominican daily El
Nacional on Tuesday that it was indeed Simon who fired the fatal shot and the
one that struck his right arm.

“If it’s like he says, that he was firing into the air, then we must
all have been sleeping,” Hernandez, said with obvious sarcasm, according
to the newspaper.

The ballistics report could be made official in the next day or two, and
although it’s been estimated that the prosecution will take several months to prepare
its case against the athlete, Puerto Plata Province Assistant District Attorney
Juan Carlos Hernandez told CNN they hope to move things along “as soon as
possible”

“The Forensics Institute in Santo Domingo will collect and review
ballistics evidence,” Hernandez said.

“We will return to the crime scene to gather more evidence.”

The Orioles have not commented publicly on the matter, but director of
player development John Stockstill flew to the Dominican Republic on Monday with
the intent of meeting with Simon, sorting through the facts and determining the
proper course of action.

A native of Santiago, Simon was a key part of the O’s bullpen last season in
the wake of injuries to Koji Uehara, Michael Gonzalez and Jim Johnson. Simon’s
contract was purchased less than a year after undergoing Tommy John surgery,
and he compiled 17 saves in 2010. He went 4-2 with a 4.93 ERA and was projected
to compete for one of the final spots in the club’s bullpen this year.

*** For more background on the story, here’s the version I wrote this morning.

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