Local February 25, 2011 | 7:47 am

Top Dominican journalist joins Orioles pitcher fray

Santo Domingo.- The New Year?s shooting death of Michel Castillo allegedly at the hands of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon took a strange turn on Friday, when supporters of the Major Leaguer blame the prestigious journalist Luis Eduardo (Huchi) Lora of ?keeping him in jail.?

Amid allegations that Simon has tried to pay his way out of prison, a group of supporters took to the streets of his native town, Luperon (north), carrying pickets to demand his release, and blame Lora of waging a campaign against him.

?It?s sad that there?s not one sign calling for justice for the victim, who had to work two jobs to help his family,? Lora said in his program on Telesistema Friday morning, referring to Michel Castillo, 26.

Castillo?s brother Starlin, 17, who was injured in the shooting, has repeated the accusation that Simon shot the victim at point blank range during a New Year?s Eve celebration, and then ?nonchalantly? walked to a nearby bar and ordered drinks.

One of the victim?s other brothers affirmed he has been threatened and has had to stay at home for several weeks. ?Imagine if that?s when he?s in prison, when he gets out they?re going to kill us all,? he said while next to Starlin, though his first name wasn’t provided.

On Thursday Judge Yakaira Veras upheld the sentence of one year in prison, as the prosecution prepares its manslaughter case against the Baltimore hurler. If found guilty, Simon faces up to two years in prison.

The killing in Puerto Plata is the latest case of violence by Dominican major leaguers, who have allegedly claimed the lives of at least four people, starting with the slugger Cesar Cedeño in the 1980s, and include New York Mets Ambiorix Burgos in 2008, and San Francisco Giants prospect Angel Villalona in 2009.