Thursday, October 01, 2009

Innocence Lost: Angel Villalona

As most Giants fans know, top prospect Angel Villalona sits in jail, on charges of having shot and killed someone in a bar fight, reportedly over the deceased occupying Villalona's "seat". He faces 20 years in jail. No matter how this ends up, a person lies dead, his family and friends grieve. There's nothing worse than that, and my condolences goes to his family and friends. And hopefully justice is done.

There was a great article in the Chronicle a few days back, that I will link here. The reporter went to his home town, and gave a great view of Villalona's background, his neighborhood, and some initial reports on the incident.

Of course, the responses were what one would expect. The ones who back the deceased says that Villalona was the one who "shot him in the back", that he will get off because of his fame and reputation. The ones who are Villalona's friends says that he didn't do it and that the other side is just fingering the one person with great wealth, Villalona. In fact, one friend, a co-Yesowner of the bar, claims that he was with Villalona when the fatal shot was fired, and Angel was not the one who fired the shot. He also claimed that Villalona does not even own a gun.

Evolving Story

As can be expected, the story has been evolving as news trickles out. Initially, there were claims that the deceased was shot in the back. However, the autopsy concluded that he was shot in the chest, with the bullet coming through the back (see this post on McCovey Chronicles by Harold S about three-quarters down a long thread of comments) and came out his neck. But if you read further down, Harold S then notes that a new report says that the victim had been shot twice, which could explain both reports. Obviously, we don't have all the news yet, and won't for at least two months, if not more.

My view is that unless the police locates the gun used to fire the fatal shot and get fingerprints off of it, and perhaps get gunfire residue off the perp's arm, they most probably will not ever figure out exactly who did the dirty deed. Then things will just degenerate into a "he said, she said" scenario, with conflicting accounts, and justice is not done.

Neither side is unmotivated to lie. Obviously, Villalona's friends would lie to protect him, if he really did do this heinous deed. However, the other side stands to gain too. The brother is the one interviewed who claims that he saw Villalona shoot him in the back. His family stands to gain in a lawsuit, or at least get hush money, to make things go away.

In addition, his statement suggests that he has something against Angel.

"He changed totally after getting that money from America. He wasn't docile anymore - he'd come flying down the street in his Nissan like a devil, and he never has less than eight people around him."
Of course, he should have something against Angel, he claims Angel killed his brother, but I still find this statement interesting. For one thing, what does not being docile have to do with anything? If he's more confident, that's probably because he made $2.1M, which is probably 10-100 times more than any of them will ever make in a lifetime. And I find that most kids who can get a new car when they are a teenager drives like a devil. And, if their culture is so gun obsessed that many carry guns because of the potential violence, I would have that many people around me for protection, because someone of that wealth will be a target for robbery and perhaps kidnapping.

Innocence Lost

Either way, no matter now this ends up, Angel Villalona's innocence was lost with this sad event. If he did fire the gun, then his innocence is lost because that is a horrible, wretched thing to do, particularly over something as petty as a barstool seat, and I think that anybody who has ever killed someone else is greatly affected for the rest of their life. And it would be horrible if he got off, but I suspect that if he really did it, enough people will have his back that he would still get off, because for every person saying Villalona did it, there will probably be two people saying they were off to the side with Villalona, watching the whole thing.

If he didn't fire the gun, Villalona's innocence is lost in another way. Even if he didn't pull the trigger, it was his fame and fortune that precipitated the encounter and resulted in a death. That would weigh on most people. In addition, being falsely accused (again, we are here assuming innocence) just because the other people want your money, that's also a hard thing to take. Juan Uribe noted in an interview, "when people know you have money, they do things."

Another thing I would note is that Scott Boras is reportedly his agent (he claimed that he was when Villalona signed with the Giants without Boras around, which made him mad). Whether Villalona is innocent or not, I would expect Boras to bring all his legal resources around to help Villalona. That could swing things Angel's way, either way.

Is Villalona Capable?

It is hard to say what type of person Villalona is. In this Mercury news item, Villalona's host family when he was at San Jose said that Villalona is shy and reserved, a good natured boy. An account with the Chronicle noted that Villalona is afraid of dogs and even carnival rides. They interviewed Jack Hiatt, the Giant's former director of player development, and he says that what he has heard "doesn't sound like him at all. He's a great kid and borders on extreme quiet. I've never seen him get angry." Villalona's host family, in this interview, noted that Villalona is a very nice person with a mirthful sense of humor. "He was a sweetheart."

The thing is, it is hard to tell how one might react in a situation that you are not familiar with. Studies have shown that the way people act around one group of friends can be quite different when the people are with another group of friends, and that also goes for situations as well. That's how a "nice boy" to neighbors can be the opposite when he is at school. Thus, Villalona could easily be the shy quiet boy in San Jose, but who is not docile and drives like the devil at home.

Oddity About the Two Gunshot Wounds

I will end with some thoughts about the latest reports about there being two gunshot wounds. If that report is correct, that one shot was in his chest, exiting his neck, and another shot in the back, that seems weird. The only way a shot in the chest comes out the neck is if the gun was basically in the deceased ribs and pointed upward. I would have to assume this shooter is a friend of Villalona's.

Now, the second shot in the back is supposedly shot by Villalona, according to the brother. But if a friend of Villalona is in close contact with the deceased, Villalona, by shooting him in the back would be also risking shooting his buddy as well, because they are so close to each other. That doesn't make sense to me.

Giants Thoughts

All in all, no matter what happens next, a very sad situation all around. If Villalona did do this, I hope justice prevails and he is put behind bars per the laws of his country. Of course, as a Giants fan I hope he is innocent and did not do it. But even if he is cleared, a cloud of question will always surround him for me from now on, unless there is some conclusive evidence that he didn't do it, because I won't know if he got off because he was innocent or if he got off because he's an influential person in his hometown.


  1. The only way a shot in the chest comes out the neck is if the gun was basically in the deceased ribs and pointed upward. I would have to assume this shooter is a friend of Villalona's.

    As a former hunter I know this isn't true. I once shot a deer in the rib cage, it should had come out the opposite side, right? Nope. U found the bullet in the deers back leg while I dressed it

  2. Thanks for clarifying that, I'm not a hunter. Very good point, I should have noted that possibility, I've seen enough CSI-type shows to know that sometimes there is a bounce.

    That said, if you go and read the report at McCovey Chronicles, what has been reported is that he was shot in the chest and that it came out of his neck. Then it was noted that there was a second shot.

    But the main point I was commenting against is that reportedly, "the police confirmed Vallete's autopsy showed he was shot in the chest and had the bullet exit his neck...".

    If that is the path of the bullet - and the police autopsy reportedly stated that - the only way it could have took that path is if the shooter was up close and personal.



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