The lastest on Simon
Check back for the latest updates, but as of Tuesday morning, here’s the latest on Alfredo Simon…
Orioles reliever Alfredo Simon, the primary suspect in a fatal New Year’s Eve shooting in the Dominican Republic, submitted himself to police for questioning on Monday morning and said the incident had been an accident.
“In truth that young man was my friend, like a brother,” Simon said told reporters of the victim, Michael Esteban Castillo, who was shot and killed in the northeast coastal town of Luperon.
“It wasn’t a thing like we began arguing and I started shooting. It was some accident; it happened by accident,” Simon said, speaking at the police station where he turned himself in. “That’s why I came here — to open my soul.”
In the meantime Simon is being held in Santiago where, according to multiple reports, he is awaiting the result of ballistics tests that are expected to determine if the fatal bullet came from his gun. The results are expected within the next day or two.
Public prosecutor Victor Mueses told the AP in a phone interview Monday that witness accounts and evidence support an involuntary manslaughter charge for the 29-year-old Simon.
“The version that we have is that there was a dispute between two women and [Simon] tried to dissolve it, fired a shot that ended up wounding a young person in the arm and that same bullet lodged in the chest of the deceased,” Mueses said.
Simon’s lawyer, Carlos Olivares, who turned the gun over to local authorities on Monday, has a different story. Oliveras said he believes his client may not be to blame for Castillo’s death since Simon was firing random shots in the air and the victim was struck and killed in the chest. Oliveras also told the AP that the deceased, whose 17-year-old brother was also wounded in the incident, was Simon’s cousin.
“A group of 14, 15 people shot up in the air, including my client,” Oliveras told reporters. “So, [the police] planted the thesis that it could have been him.”
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 news, first reported by the AP, was confirmed to MLB.com by one of Simon’s agents, Phil Isaac, who was optimistic that Simon’s statement to the police would “be the end of the matter”.
Simon was joined Monday in the courthouse in Puerto Plata by close friend and former teammate Julio Lugo. Former Oriole Miguel Tejada has also reached out, according to Isaac, as well as a large number of Dominican-born baseball players, including those who have never played with Simon. Tejada is reportedly paying Simon’s legal bills.
“He is scared because he recognizes that he fired shots, although they went into the air,” said Lugo, who advised Simon to surrender after he fled the scene.
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 be a part of the club’s bullpen this year.
Simon could face up to two years in prison if found guilty of
involuntary manslaughter. A murder conviction could have carried 30