A Dominican prosecutor handling the case of Orioles reliever Alfredo Simon said Wednesday the "trigger-happy" pitcher might have changed the barrel of a gun he turned over to authorities as a way of disguising his involvement in a fatal New Year's Day shooting.
Victor Mueses, the chief prosecutor in Puerto Plata, where Simon remained in custody after surrendering to authorities Monday, said the serial number on the weapon's barrel does not match numbers on the rest of the gun and suggested that the 29-year-old reliever might have swapped the original barrel for another at some point between the shooting and his surrender two days later.
The inference was that any such alteration would be designed to stymie ballistics experts who are examining both the gun and the bullet that killed a 25-year-old reveler early Saturday.
"We've received information that it's possible that Simon might have changed the barrel on his weapon," Mueses said in Spanish, according to Dominican news outlets that have followed the case since it became known Sunday that Simon was being sought in connection with the shooting, which left Michael Castillo Almonte dead and wounded his 17-year-old half brother, Starlin Castillo Hernandez.
The prosecutor's comments drew the ire of Carlos Olivares, a lawyer representing Simon, who said Mueses was being "careless" with his allegations and that they were not based on quantifiable proof. "Nothing has been definitively determined according to scientific expertise, which is how public officials should guide themselves," Olivares told the newspaper El Nacional. He added that his legal colleague should not be "supposing" matters of law, but proving them.
In his comments earlier, Mueses also told reporters he has received videos that show what occurred in Luperon's Central Park that night, although he would not be specific. He did say that a brawl between two people in the park had played a role in the shootings, which could lend credence to a report that Simon had fired his gun, ostensibly into the air, as a way of breaking up a fight.
Mueses' description of the pitcher as "trigger-happy" referred to what he said were various prior occasions in which Simon had been summoned and warned about firing his gun in public, according to the news website Puerto Plata Habla, which translates as Puerto Plata Speaks. When asked by a reporter why Simon's gun had not been permanently confiscated before, Mueses said that the warnings that he not repeat the behavior had evidently been insufficient.
"We thought that by calling him into our office," Mueses said, "we could resolve the problem."