Interesting Development in Angel Villalona Murder Case
Giants former super-prospect Angel Villalona has been released on bond as a result of a $139,000 settlement with the family of 25 year old victim Mario Felix de Jesus Velete. Villalona signed for a $2.1 million bonus with the Giants in 2006.
After the settlement, the victim’s family asked the judge to dismiss the case. However, the prosecutor says that he wants to go forward with the murder charge. The upshot is that Villalona will be out of jail for two months while the prosecution prepares its case.
I know that the Dominican Republic is a poor country (Per capita gross domestic product was $8,200 in 2008 according the CIA Worldfact Book, and I’m sure that poor Dominicans make a lot less than that), but $139,000 sure seems like a small amount of money for a man’s life AND to get the family to agree to ask the judge to drop the prosecution, particularly when Villalona must have a good chunk of that $2.1 million signing bonus left. It makes me wonder if there are facts we don’t yet know about.
Is it impossible for the family to bring a civil action for damages against Villalona in the Dominican Courts separate from the criminal charges? (Think O.J. Simpson’s civil trial.) Was de Jesus Velete a no-good thug who had it coming to him? Hard to imagine a family that has lost a loved one agreeing to let the killer walk for a lousy $139,000 unless the deceased wasn’t particularly loved.
The story reminds me of the famous incident in the early 1970’s involving Astros star centerfielder Cesar Cedeno. Houston manager Leo Durocher, who was certainly in a position to know, claimed that Cedeno could be the “next Willie Mays”. Cesar really had that kind of talent, hitting .32o in consecutive seasons at age 21 and 22, hitting 25 and 26 HRs at age 22 and 23 (playing his home games in the notoriously pitcher-friendly Astrodome), and stealing between 50 and 61 bases in six consecutive seasons. Cesar wasn’t too bright, however, and he never became Willie Mays.
Here’s a version of the shooting incident I found on the internet. Cesar was apparently drinking and getting high with his girlfriend in a motel room in Santo Domingo, while his wife was in their home across town. The girlfriend got a hold of his gun, and they struggled over it because she wouldn’t give it back. His story was the gun went off and shot her in the head, which is what the police analysis seemed to confirm some time later (they concluded she was holding the gun last). However, he fled the scene without calling the police and was briefly charged with the equivalent of second-degree murder. He ended up paying a reported 100 Dominican Peso fine.
This incident happened in December, 1973, which was a little before my time, but I remember as a young fan in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s, that if you really wanted to get under Cesar’s skin, you shouted out “MURDERER!” or “WHO ARE YOU GONNA KILL NEXT?” when he came up to bat. I never did, of course, but I distinctly remember hearing that on at least one occasion Cesar went up into the stands after a fan who did.