Alfredo Simon's request to be released on bail granted

An appeals court in the Dominican Republic has granted Alfredo Simon's request to be released on bail, according to news reports Thursday from Puerto Plata, where the Orioles reliever has been incarcerated since Jan. 3. Simon is to be freed as soon as he comes up with 2 million pesos, the equivalent of $53,333.

It is not yet known whether Simon, suspected of fatally shooting a man and injuring another during a party early on New Year's Day, will be allowed to leave the Dominican Republic pending an investigation into the incident, which took the life of Michael Esteban Castillo Almonte, 25. The victim's 17-year-old half brother, Starlin Castillo Hernandez, was injured.

Simon was denied bail twice before by lower courts, most recently last week.

Thursday's decision came from a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal in Puerto Plata, the northern coastal city in which Simon has been held, according to a report in Listín Diaro, a Santo Domingo newspaper. Magistrates Miguelina Bear, Manuel Ureña and Juan Suardy granted the defendant's release pending payment of the bond, a transaction that was expected to be completed Friday.

Prosecutor Domingo Belliard had argued against the release of Simon, who has not been charged in the case and who was represented by two local attorneys, María Diloné and Edwin Valdez.

The possibility of Simon's release had been a source of great expectation among his agents in the United States, one of whom expressed certainty on Feb. 22 that his client would be released within 24 hours.

Simon was being held under so-called preventive detention. Dominican law stipulates that a suspect may be detained for up to a year without being charged.

There has been no allegation that, even if he did fire his gun, Simon intended to hurt anyone. It is not uncommon in some places — including, on occasion, in Baltimore — to fire handguns during New Year's celebrations and other milestones. Nevertheless, officials in Puerto Plata said Simon had been warned before about doing so.

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