Orioles reliever Alfredo Simon, center, is pictured with his… (El Nacional photo by Guillermo…)
The 17-year-old Dominican boy who police suspect was shot in the right arm by Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon during a New Year's party told a reporter Tuesday that it was indeed Simon who had fired the shots that wounded him and killed his 25-year-old half brother.
Simon, who is in custody pending charges, told police after turning himself in Monday that he had been firing celebratory shots into the air and that the death of Michael Esteban Castillo Almonte and the wounding of his sibling were accidents.
"If it's like he says, that he was firing into the air, then we must all have been sleeping," the youth, Starlin Castillo Hernandez, said with obvious sarcasm to a reporter for the Dominican daily El Nacional.
However, Carlos Olivares, a lawyer for Simon, suggested that a preliminary ballistics report did not match the bullet that killed Castillo Almonte to Simon's gun. "The ballistics tests have been favorable," Olivares told CNN in a telephone interview. "We are waiting for the formal report."
Olivares told CNN he had received information about the report from a "trusted source," but police officials in Puerto Plata called the news "possible, but it's very early." Sgt. Hermosin de los Santos with the Preventive Police told CNN such cases normally take six months to fully investigate.
The burial for Castillo Almonte took place Tuesday morning in the municipal cemetery of Luperon, the northern coastal town in which the shootings took place in the early hours of Saturday as revelers congregated in a park.
The victim's parents, Esteban Castillo Polanco and Juana Almonte, lost another son in tragic circumstances five years ago, according to El Nacional. Arnulfo, the couple's eldest child, had been considered the "financial hope of the impoverished family," as the newspaper described it, but he died in an auto accident a few days before leaving for a job in Germany.
Also on Tuesday, Olivares told reporters he plans to appeal a judge's detention order that is keeping his client behind bars in Santiago, where he is from, while investigators attempt to ascertain whether Simon was responsible for the shootings. The judge, Adriana VÃƒÂƒÃ‚Â¡squez JimÃƒÂƒÃ‚Â©nez, on Monday ordered that the 29-year-old reliever be held for up to a year as the case proceeds.
Olivares said the prosecutor and the judge had "acted with malice" toward his client in potentially locking him up for so long, especially when even the prosecutor said Simon's gun was fired only once. The fact that two people were struck, he said, would tend to support the theory that more than one weapon was used in the park that night.
One of the theories gaining currency in the case is that a bullet fired by Simon first hit Castillo Hernandez and then struck his half brother in the chest.
A group of Simon's relatives staged a vigil Tuesday outside the jail, housed in the Palace of Justice, to call for a reversal of the detention order. Local news reports quoted family members as offering solidarity with the ballplayer and insisting on his innocence.
According to a source with knowledge of the investigation, Orioles director of player development John Stockstill met with Simon on Tuesday and also met with Simon's legal representation in the Dominican. Stockstill declined to comment.