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Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon freed in Dominican Republic

By Tom Watkins, CNN
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon faces involuntary homicide charges in the Dominican Republic.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon faces involuntary homicide charges in the Dominican Republic.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Simon still faces a charge of involuntary homicide in the Dominican Republic
  • The charge is related to a New Year's Eve killing
  • He paid bail of about $50,000
  • He is free to travel to the United States, where he remains on the Orioles roster

(CNN) -- Baltimore Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon was freed Thursday by an appeals court in Puerto Plata Province in the Dominican Republic after being held more than two months in jail for involuntary homicide, his lawyer told CNN.

The 29-year-old athlete, who paid bail of about $50,000, spent the time in the Fortaleza San Felipe in Puerto Plata, the only jail in the country that has a baseball field, lawyer Carlos Olivares said.

Simon still faces the charge, Olivares told CNN in a telephone interview from Santo Domingo. But he is free to travel. "He can leave to the United States," Olivares said, adding that the Baltimore team has kept him on its roster.

Simon surrendered himself and his weapon on January 3 to Dominican National Police and was jailed in the northern coastal town of Puerto Plata after being accused in the New Year's Eve shooting death of 25-year-old Michael Esteban Castillo.

Olivares said shooting in the air in celebration of the new year is a common practice in the Dominican Republic and that Simon was one of many who did so that night. "A group of 14, 15 people shot up in the air, including my client," he told reporters. "So, they planted the thesis that it could have been him."

Assistant D.A. Hernandez said in January of Simon, "So far he's the one. There's no doubt about the incident."

Simon hails from Santiago, about an hour south of Puerto Plata. He joined the Orioles in 2008.

Olivares said the ballistics report absolves his client, though it has not been made public.

The judge in the case originally ordered his client held for a year, but the appeals court rejected that, Olivares said. "We know that he had nothing to do with this victim," the lawyer said.

The Orioles' website said Thursday that "Simon is unlikely to pitch in 2011 due to off-the-field issues."