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Orioles pitcher acquitted in Dominican shooting death

From Jorge Pineda, for CNN
updated 11:39 PM EST, Tue November 8, 2011
Starting pitcher Alfredo Simon #55 of the Baltimore Orioles as pictured at Oriole Park on July 16 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Starting pitcher Alfredo Simon #55 of the Baltimore Orioles as pictured at Oriole Park on July 16 in Baltimore, Maryland.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Alfredo Simon was charged with killing one man, wounding another on January 1
  • Defense said prosecution failed to prove he fired the gun that killed Michell Castillo, 25
  • Prosecutors claim Simon bribed witnesses, including the wounded 17-year-old

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (CNN) -- A three-judge panel court on Tuesday acquitted Baltimore Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon of charges in the shooting death of a man in his hometown.

Simon was charged with involuntary murder in the death of Michell Esteban Castillo, 25, and with injuring the victim's cousin Starlin Castillo, 17, early on January 1 in the nearby town of Luperon.

Defense attorneys argued that the prosecution failed to prove Simon fired the pistol that killed Castillo, who he said was a childhood friend, during a New Year's Eve celebration.

Prosecutors claimed that Simon had bribed witnesses, including the wounded cousin, who on Tuesday appeared less certain that Simon was the shooter than he had been in previous statements to police and the media.

Prosecutors said they will wait for the official verdict to be released but plan to appeal to the regional appellate court in Santiago.

In the Dominican Republic, prosecutors can appeal an acquittal to a higher court within 20 working days. Simon faces a 10-year sentence on the charges.

The 30-year-old right-hander started 23 games for the Orioles this season and posted a record of 4-9 with a 4.90 earned-run average.

According to local news website gentetuya.com, Simon is expected to sign a $12 million contract with the Orioles.

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