Villalona faces murder charge
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- A top prospect for the San Francisco Giants was charged with murder in the death of a 25-year-old man last weekend at a bar in his Caribbean homeland.
Angel Villalona, who received a club-record $2.1 million bonus when he was signed by the Giants in 2006, wore a bulletproof vest Monday to his hearing at a court in the city of La Romana. He pleaded innocent to the murder charge.
The 19-year-old Villalona could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty in the Saturday night shooting death of Mario Felix de Jesus Velete.
Judge Aranibal Manzano Zapata ordered Villalona jailed for two months while authorities prepare their case in the Dominican Republic. Villalona turned himself in 12 hours after the shooting at a La Romana bar.
"This is a serious case of voluntary homicide," public prosecutor Jose Polanco said.
Police haven't said what the motive for the shooting was.
Villalona, who appeared tired at Monday's hearing, refused to talk to reporters and tried to hide his face from photographers.
The first baseman played in 74 games with Class A San Jose this season, batting .267 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs. Baseball America chose him as the Giants' top prospect before the 2008 season and he was selected for the Futures Game during All-Star festivities that year.
The Giants said Monday night they wouldn't comment further after issuing a statement Sunday saying the club was "disappointed" to learn that Villalona was considered a suspect by Dominican police.
"We will monitor the situation closely and trust that the judicial process in the Dominican Republic will resolve the matter promptly and fairly," the team said in Sunday's statement.
Frank Micheli, president of the Azucareros del Este -- Villalona's winter baseball team -- did not immediately return calls.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press