Pitcher who threw ball during Dragons brawl tells his side of story

DAYTON — Former Peoria Chiefs minor-league pitcher Julio Castillo testified Thursday, July 23, that he was trying to get Dayton Dragons players to retreat into their dugout when he hurled a baseball that hit a spectator.

“I threw the ball in front of the dugout, because I was nervous and I was frightened,” Castillo said, speaking through an interpreter. “I didn’t throw it to hit anyone.”

Castillo, 22, who is from the Dominican Republic, only speaks Spanish. He cannot read or write any language. When his defense attorney asked him to spell his last name, a standard question at the start of testimony, Castillo responded, “I can’t spell it.”

Castillo was on trial this week for two counts of felonious assault. The charges are second-degree felonies, punishable by up to eight years in prison, though the charges could merge for sentencing purposes should he be convicted of both.

Prosecutors claim Castillo was acting with anger when he threw the ball that hit Christopher McCarthy, 45, of Middletown. McCarthy suffered a concussion. Castillo’s intent was to hurt one of the Dragons, prosecutors said.

But defense attorney Dennis Lieberman told Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Connie S. Price that Castillo did not intend to hurt anyone. As Dragons players, reacting to a brawl on the field, began to run out from the dugout, Castillo threw the ball toward netting in front of the dugout.

Castillo threw it to communicate to the Dragons that they should stay back, since he could not communicate verbally, but the ball sailed over the dugout and hit the spectator, Lieberman told Price.

On Thursday, Castillo told Lieberman he was on the mound but getting nervous as the teams managers were arguing and starting to shove each other, and it appeared a bench-clearing brawl was about to start. When he saw Dragons players leaving the dugout, he reacted, Castillo said.

During cross-examination by Assistant County Prosecutor Tracey Ballard Tangeman, Castillo acknowledged that no Dragons player touched him until after he threw the ball.

The trial ended Thursday with closing arguments. Price told attorneys she will issue her verdict in a written decision at a later date.

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