According to Andrew Baggarly's blog, which cites an AP report Angel Villalona is out of jail. Normally I'd be jumping for joy. A teammate who had been accused of something walked out of jail. I should be happy, right?
Well, I'm not jumping for joy. The judge has apparently accepted a request by the family of the victim to drop the charges. Baggarly states that according to rumor, Villalona "paid $150,000 to the family of the slain man."
I went to the website of Diario Libre, the main paper in the DR, to get more information. They're now reporting that instead of 5 million pesos, Villalona actually paid the family 2 million pesons. They cite the mother of the victim as the source, so it seems pretty solid.
So how much is a peso? Well, I did an online search for an exchange rate and it's around 36.68 pesos per dollar. So at 5 million pesos, the amount would've been $136,314. At 2 million pesos? Try $54,524.
I hate believing rumors, but if this is true, then Villalona just paid off a family for a little over $50,000.
Upon Villalona's arrest a month ago, I posted on this blog about it. Here's an excerpt:
Again, I hope that Villalona didn’t commit this murder, but if he did, justice needs to be served. The thought still reigns as almost incomprehensible, but I have to remember that my teammates don’t grow up in cushy little suburbs in the United States, playing 60 games a year for traveling Little League teams that extort $5,000 for the “opportunity” to play. Instead, they come from a still developing country with a high crime rate, where $5,000 represents more than half of the average household income.
Most of the things I stated in that paragraph remain true. I hope he didn't commit this murder. The guy was/is a teammate, and I got along with him more than well. Not only a huge kid but also a huge prospect, a tremendous amount of pressure had been placed on his broad shoulders. He went through times where he displayed a broad smile and he went through times where he was frustrated. I'd consider him a friend.
But I also believe that justice needs to be served. And how can justice be served if the family is paid off?
The prosecutor states that he wants to continue to pursue this case. Obviously I'm no expert in Dominican law, but without a judge behind him, I'm wondering if he'll be able to bring anything to trial.
I wanted to believe my teammate was innocent. I wanted something to come forward to exonerate him. I wanted to see him walk out of prison a free man. But not like this. This just smells like rotten sushi, and nobody likes rotten sushi.