The last player to be active with a big league team when involved in a murder case overseas was former Houston Astros outfielder Cesar Cedeno in December 1973. According to reports, his girlfriend accidentally shot herself with his gun in a Dominican motel room.

Cedeno called authorities but then fled, turning himself in the next day, according to reports. He initially was charged with voluntary manslaughter and spent 20 days in jail. Eventually, the charge was lessened to involuntary manslaughter.

A budding star in the majors and a hero in the Dominican at the time, Cedeno was fined but didn't serve anymore prison time in the case and was back playing with the Astros that spring. He spent 17 seasons with four big league teams.

Travel issues

Professional athletes from outside the United States can face unique issues when confronted with possible charges.

"With athletes, it's a really serious situation because most have to cross borders just to play," said Atlanta immigration lawyer Dale Schwartz, a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "They're not going to be able come back [into the United States] with a serious conviction on their record unless they get a waiver. "

Then there is the emotional toll of a pending case.

"Some of them were able to handle that emotionally because they thought they were innocent. Others were so arrogant that they didn't seem to care," Schwartz said.

Washington attorney Mark Tuohey represented former Oriole Miguel Tejada, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to a misdemeanor charge of misleading Congress regarding his knowledge of steroid use in baseball.

"Many of the athletes are resident aliens, and for them, particularly a felony conviction could be very complicating in terms of future ability to travel freely. It could involve deportation," Tuohey said. "Miguel's situation was misdemeanor. It was handled in a very professional manner, and his ability to travel was not impeded. But we took no chances."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Barker contributed to this article.

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