Mark De Simone, who was found guilty of murder in the 2016 shooting death of Duilio Antonio “Tony” Rosales, was sentenced Monday to 45 years in prison.
On May 10, 2018, a Juneau jury found De Simone, who is currently 56, guilty of first-degree murder. Sentencing was originally set for Sept. 12, then Dec. 5 and then Feb. 20, but was pushed back each time.
Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip M. Pallenberg handed down the sentence in an emotional court hearing Monday as Rosales’ friends and family watched with tears in their eyes. Pallenberg’s full sentence was for 65 years in prison with 20 years suspended, saying that this case deserved neither the maximum nor the minumum sentence.
De Simone did not speak during his two-and-a-half-week trial but spoke briefly at Monday’s sentencing hearing. He referred to the incident as an “accident” but said that just because something is an accident doesn’t mean he’s not to blame.
“The fault and the responsibility are mine and mine alone,” De Simone said.
Friends and family of Rosales spoke at the hearing as well. Rosales’ widow Maria Gonzalez spoke at the hearing, asking repeatedly, as she did at De Simone’s arraignment, why De Simone pulled the trigger.
“This has taken over my life,” Gonzalez said through tears. “I just want to end with this already. I don’t know how many years he’s going to get but that’s not going to bring my husband back.”
De Simone nodded his head slightly as Gonzalez spoke but he did not respond.
De Simone was a member of the Arizona State House of Representatives in 2007, but resigned the next year after he was arrested on charges related to domestic violence, according to reports at the time from the Arizona Republic. The charge was dropped, the New York Times reported, and he agreed to go to counseling.
Speaking to reporters after Monday’s hearing, Gonzalez repeated that she didn’t care much about what sentence De Simone received.
“Even if he got 100 (years), my life is not going to change,” Gonzalez said. “Like, 65, 45 years is nothing compared to the pain that I have every day.”
Rosales’ death happened during a hunting trip to Excursion Inlet on Sunday, May 15, 2016, as described by witnesses at the trial. The hunting party that included De Simone and Rosales was split between two cabins that week, several witnesses testified, and De Simone and Rosales were alone on the deck of one of them on that Sunday evening.
Rosales, a 34-year-old jeweler and Juneau resident, was sitting on a bench next to a table on the deck and had just taken off his boots, investigators testified. That’s when a Ruger .41 Magnum Blackhawk revolver fired twice, with both bullets hitting Rosales in the head just behind his right ear, forensic pathologists testified.
During the trial, Assistant Public Defender Deborah Macaulay didn’t dispute that De Simone pulled the trigger. The main defense in the case was that De Simone could have fired twice accidentally, and two gun experts squared off in the final days of the trial and debated whether that was possible. Jurors were not convinced that De Simone accidentally fired twice, and found him guilty.
Just prior to handing down the sentence Monday, Pallenberg addressed the defense’s argument.
“That theory still leaves a ‘why’ question unanswered,” Pallenberg said. “If the gun went off by accident, why was it pointed at the back of Mr. Rosales’ head at close range when it went off accidentally twice? That’s a mystery.”
Pallenberg went on to say that there was no apparent motive in the case, and that the two men seemed to have no ill will toward one another, based on everything witnesses said during the trial. Pallenberg, who called for a 30-minute break in Monday’s hearing to think everything over before issuing his final decision, said the killing didn’t seem premeditated and hypothezised that the shooting was “bizarre impulsive act, motivated by who knows what.”
Gonzalez said she hopes De Simone writes her a letter or eventually finds a way to explain to her what was going through his head that day. Pallenberg agreed, saying he hopes De Simone can explain himself eventually.
“It’s obvious that the key question in this case is the question that Ms. Gonzalez asked right at the beginning and today, and probably every day in between,” Pallenberg said, and that’s the question, ‘Why?’”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.