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January 3, 2011

Simon held in custody while awaiting ballistic tests

Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon is in police custody near his hometown of Santiago, Dominican Republic, pending the result of ballistics tests, according to a source close to the investigation.

Dominican authorities want to know if the bullet that killed Simon’s cousin, 25-year-old Michael Esteban Castillo Almonte, came from Simon's gun.

Simon has not been charged with a crime yet, but he is considered the leading suspect in the death of Castillo Almonte, who was shot in the chest during a New Year’s Eve celebration in a Dominican resort town.

A rough estimate for the completion of the ballistics tests is one to two days, but it could take longer, making it unclear how long Simon will be detained. Once the report is completed, authorities in the Dominican will decide whether to file formal charges against Simon or release him.

Simon met with police on Monday and surrendered the gun he had with him on New Year’s Eve. He told reporters in the Dominican on Monday that the shooting was accidental.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 11:44 PM | | Comments (9)


If you were in Simon's shoes and you thought there was a chance that you might have done it, would you give them the same gun?

I've tried to reserve judgment, but after this latest development, I guess what makes me pretty certain that Simon is the shooter is that there are no reports about other shots being fired in the vicinity of the two men (unless I missed something), no other weapons are undergoing ballistics tests. Two men were shot by a single bullet, they're testing the only gun that was fired. Just saying. But the final shoe will drop via whatever legal system they have in the DR.

Something smells fishy about Simon's claim that he "fired into the air." Nobody was ever killed by a bullet fired into the air, let alone a 2nd person hit and wounded by the same bullet. A falling bullet has lost its velocity at the point where it stops going up and starts falling under only the force of gravity. It might hurt if it strikes you, but it won't kill you and then have enough energy left to go on and wound a 2nd person. And if you fired a bullet into the air, how would you know who it hit when it fell back???

The bullet that killed Simon's cousin and wounded another man had to be fired FORWARD, not up into the air.

The whole story sounds crazy. I'm afraid there's a lot more to the truth than what we've been told.

Most of the tests involved the physics of firing a bullet straight up into the air. It's almost impossible to fire a bullet from a weapon straight up into the air. Depending on the angle it is possible to fire a round up into the air and have it kill someone on the way down. The confusing thing to me would seem to be his not realizing anyone had been hit, but we don't know where the men were in relation to one another. Nor do we know if there were other weapons present.

I want this to turn out OK for Simon, but it doesn't look good. Let's discard the remote possibility that he fired into the air and the bullet struck two people, killing one, on the way down. That doesn't seem reasonable.

It's certainly possible that someone else fired the bullet - that would seem to be Simon's best hope. But how would that be proven?

The ballistics won't necessarily prove anything, either - if Simon fired the shot, and knew he fired the shot, what's to say he didn't ditch the weapon, then hand in another one? "Oh, ballistics don't match? Then it couldn't have been Alfredo"

That's a lawyer's argument, much as the 'fired into the air' defense is. But I'm not sure it's enough to get Alfredo out of this mess. Like I said, doesn't look good.


I admit that though the reports and details vary depending on the source, it doesn't look real good at this point for Simon.

However, and I'm not a DR legal expert, the burden of proof falls on the prosecution, not on Simon and the defense. The prosecution must prove beyond the shadow of doubt that Simon fired the fatal shot. All the defense has to do is make the police/judge/jury believe that there could in fact have been another individual who fired the fatal shot. If, and this is a big if, the ballistics come back that Simon's gun was not used, that could be very damaging to the police/prosecution's case against Simon.

If the ballistics tests confirms that it was Simon's gun, well then, he's up poop creek without a paddle and has large hole in the boat.


Very true - and thanks for setting me straight. The part I neglected to include, I guess, is we have no idea what sort of evidence has them looking at Simon in the first place. Witnesses? Something else?

I will say that Simon saying things to the media like 'it was an accident' don't exactly jibe with his 'not my gun' argument. I'm sure his lawyers weren't too happy to hear that. But you're right - it's up to the prosecution to build a case.

a dominican paper states that he'll be in jail for at least a year while they investigate the murder. Oh, he shot the victims brother as well.Based on my experiences in the DR and where he was, he did it. Xmas and new years are one of the most dangerous times down there. 105 people died over the xmas new years holiday week and the DR is smaller than the state of Md. If anything, he will pay off the prosecutor and or judge. Money talks better than spanish and makes you a free man quickly.....

I am the same place where the incident occurred and the truth is that I can say that if the gun was simon who was killed one person was completely accidental and as Simon and the dead were rather friends, and were sharing a few moments before, who writes is a cousin of the deceased

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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