Many questions surrounding the shooting death of Juneau jeweler Duilio Antonio “Tony” Rosales will never be answered, but a jury made one conclusion Friday: Mark De Simone is guilty of first-degree murder for Rosales’ death.
After a trial that lasted about two and a half weeks, the jury deliberated for most of the day Thursday and about an hour Friday before reaching a verdict. The verdict came two years almost to the day after the shooting, and De Simone’s sentencing is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 12.
Rosales’ friends and family, seated in the first two rows of the courtroom near the jury, embraced each other as the verdict was read Friday morning. Even prior to the jury entering the room, Rosales’ widow Maria Gonzalez was in tears, her head in her hands.
As the jury filed out of the room, Gonzalez again was overcome with emotion and had to leave the courtroom.
“They’re going to give (De Simone) 100 years (in prison) but it’s not going to bring my husband back,” Gonzalez said afterward, “but at least they made justice. That makes me feel a little bit better.”
According to Alaska Statute 12.55.125(a), a defendant convicted of first-degree murder faces a sentencing range of 20 years to 99 years.
— Alex McCarthy (@akmccarthy) May 11, 2018
“I shot him”
Jurors listened during the trial as witnesses described the scene at a cabin at Excursion Inlet on Sunday, May 15, 2016. A 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 the Ruger .41 Magnum Blackhawk revolver fired twice, with both bullets hitting Rosales in the head just behind his right ear, forensic pathologists testified.
No witnesses were present on the deck at the time of the shooting. De Simone, currently 55, declined to testify in the trial.
The closest was Seth Bradshaw, who said he was behind the cabin at the time of the shooting. Bradshaw testified that he walked through the cabin after hearing the shots and ran into De Simone at the front door.
Once they passed each other, Bradshaw said he saw Rosales on the front porch, facedown in a pool of blood. Bradshaw said he asked De Simone what happened.
“I shot him,” De Simone said, according to Bradshaw’s testimony. “It’s all my fault. I shot him.”
Assistant Public Attorney Deborah Macaulay, representing De Simone, did not dispute the fact that De Simone shot Rosales that day. During her 20-minute closing argument Macaulay asserted, based on the testimony of her expert witnesses this week, that De Simone could have unintentionally shot and killed Rosales due to a few different factors.
Reliving the facts of the case, Gonzalez said, was difficult. She was present every day of the trial, but left for large portions that included gruesome details.
“It was painful,” Gonzalez said. “I feel like I’ve had the same experience twice, losing my husband. Coming every day to the trial is not easy. I’ll keep it on my mind my whole life.”
Each side’s case
One point of contention between the two attorneys, that came up frequently during their closing arguments, was the safety of the Ruger .41 Magnum Blackhawk revolver with which De Simone shot Rosales. While Macaulay said the gun had not been properly updated since it was made in 1972, Paige pointed out that evidence showed the gun was in good working order.
De Simone had fired the gun a few days earlier, multiple witnesses testified, when he shot at an animal near the cabin. After the shooting of Rosales, firearm expert Debra Gillis testified that she tested the gun three times and found it to be functioning as expected.
“They want to argue that this gun was just looking for an accident,” Paige said of the defense during her rebuttal Thursday. “No, this is a murder looking for an accident.”
The issue of intent was key as the jurors try to determine whether De Simone was guilty of first-degree murder, Macaulay and Paige agreed. The two sides agreed on most of the facts in the case, Macaulay said both in her opening statement and closing argument: they agreed on the who, what, where and when, but disagreed on the why and how, she said.
Throughout the trial, nobody had an explanation for why De Simone would want to kill Rosales. Alaska State Trooper Ryan Anderson testified that through his investigation of the case, he couldn’t find a source of conflict between the two men.
“The lack of a reason,” Macaulay said in her closing argument, “is a gaping hole in the state’s case.”
“He didn’t deserve to die like that”
In convicting De Simone of first-degree murder, the jurors found that De Simone “intentionally caused the death of another person,” according to the original indictment.
About three hours after their deliberations began, the jurors asked Judge Philip Pallenberg for more clarification on how exactly to define “intent,” and Pallenberg said a person acts intentionally in relation to a result (in this case, the death of Rosales) “when a person’s conscious objective is to cause that result.”
De Simone, according to reports in 2016, is a former Arizona legislator who was living in Juneau in 2016. The Arizona Republic reported in 2008 that De Simone was arrested on charges of domestic violence and stepped down from his job with the legislature. The charges were later dropped, the New York Times reported.
Gonzalez, who recently moved to Florida, said she might never get the closure she wants. She spoke through tears outside the courtroom afterward as she tried to process the news for which she had waited two years.
“(Rosales) was a really good man. He didn’t deserve to die like that. Nobody (does), not even him,” Gonzalez said, referring to De Simone. “Not even him.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.