Castillo convicted for throwing at fan

Updated: August 4, 2009, 6:46 PM ET
Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio -- An Ohio judge has convicted a minor league pitcher of injuring a fan when he threw a baseball that went into the stands during an on-field melee in Dayton last year.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Connie Price on Tuesday found Julio Castillo guilty of felonious assault causing serious physical injury. The judge acquitted the 22-year-old of a second charge of felonious assault with a deadly weapon.

Price announced her decision without comment.

Castillo, of the Dominican Republic, was pitching for the Peoria Chiefs -- a Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs -- against the Dayton Dragons when the bench-clearing brawl broke out. Castillo threw a ball that gave a fan a concussion.

He faces a possible 2 to 8 years in prison when he is sentenced Thursday, but the judge could alternatively sentence him to probation.

"We are pleased that this paves the way for some sense of accountability for what happened, and for the victim to be recognized that what happened to him could happen to anyone," said assistant county prosecutor Tracey Tangeman.

Defense attorney Dennis Lieberman said the verdict contained both "good news and bad news" but declined further comment.

During last month's trial, fan Chris McCarthy testified that Castillo appeared angry when he hurled the ball toward the Dragons' dugout. He said the ball came into the stands, striking him in the temple area.

McCarthy, 45, of Middletown, said the seams of the baseball left a mark on his scalp, and he suffered a throbbing headache for days. He said the swelling in his head became so severe that he couldn't wear a hard hat required for part of his job.

McCarthy did not attend the verdict hearing on Tuesday. A message left at a number listed for a Chris McCarthy in Middletown was not immediately returned.

At trial, Montgomery County prosecutor Jon Marshall had accused Castillo of throwing the ball at Dragons' players. He argued that courts have found that such objects as rocks, bricks, pool cues and baseball bats constitute deadly weapons, and Castillo is capable of throwing a baseball over 90 miles an hour.

Castillo said he had been having pitching control problems earlier in the game, became frightened as the brawl began, and threw the ball downward toward the Dragons' dugout to try to keep players from rushing the field. He said he did not throw at any opposing player, nor did he intend to hit anyone.

Video from the game shows Castillo throwing a ball, but doesn't show where the ball lands.

Officials in the Midwest League suspended and fined 15 players and both teams' managers for the fight.

Castillo currently is on the roster of the Boise Hawks, also a Cubs affiliate. He has been benched as the Cubs awaited the outcome of the trial.

Michael Lufrano, general counsel for the Cubs, declined to comment Tuesday.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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