The man accused of killing a Juneau jeweler on a hunting trip in Excursion Inlet is a former Arizona state legislator.
Mark Anthony De Simone, 53, was a Democratic State House Representative in the Arizona Legislature in 2007. He allegedly shot Juneau man Duilio Antonio “Tony” Rosales twice in the head Sunday night and is being charged with first-degree murder.
De Simone resigned from the Arizona Legislature in 2008 after he was arrested on charges related to domestic violence, according to The Arizona Republic.
“It was a disgrace,” said Mary Jo Pitzl, a reporter at The Arizona Republic. She’s been with the newspaper for 35 years. She’s a state government reporter and was covering the Legislature at the time of De Simone’s arrest.
“The Democrats were celebrating their budget victory and they went out to party and I guess he had a little too much to drink. And when he got home – at least according to police accounts, he and his wife had a fight. He hit her. She called the police,” Pitzl said on the phone Tuesday afternoon.
A July 2008 Arizona Republic article reported that De Simone held his wife, Mali, down and punched her several times in the face and arms, according to allegations contained in a police report.
In another Republic article, De Simone denied in a statement he did this and said “he was stepping down (from office) because of his children.” He and his wife had two.
He plead not guilty to misdemeanor assault charges, according to the Republic. The charge was dropped, reported the New York Times following his resignation, and he agreed to go to counseling.
As a legislator, De Simone represented a middle-class to upper middle-class district, Pitzl said.
“He was known as a pro-business Democrat, which was part of his appeal to his district. He was a bar owner and, I think, first got prominence because he was active in opposing a ballot measure that ultimately did ban smoking in bars and restaurants,” Pitzl said.
De Simone’s LinkedIn profile says he was the owner and operator of Hidden House Lounge and Bruno Mali’s Café, which was located in Phoenix, Arizona, from 1990 to 2015.
“He was easy to talk to, very approachable, just sort of like a bartender,” Pitzl said. She said De Simone’s wife often visited him in his legislative office.
After he resigned, Pitzl said De Simone dropped out of public life and she didn’t know what happened to him.
“I ran into him a year or so later. He was out running around at the capitol and I asked him if he was thinking of ever running again and he said, ‘Oh, maybe sometime, but this is not the time,’ and that’s the last I saw of him,” Pitzl said.
She said she’s shocked by the news of De Simone’s murder charges.
“He came across as just sort of a nice guy. Nothing extraordinary. The most ink he ever got was because of the domestic violence problem,” Pitzl said.
Jim Small, editor of Arizona Capitol Times, is shocked as well. Small also covered the Arizona Legislature during De Simone’s time in office.
“It’s not often that you find out that someone that was well known in our community is involved in such a violent crime,” Small said.
After he resigned from office in 2008, Small said De Simone and his wife divorced, but De Simone remained in Arizona running the Hidden House Lounge until it closed in 2015.
Small said he saw De Simone throughout the years in between.
“He’d come by and drop off Christmas gifts for me just as a thank you for the work that we did. He was just that kind of guy,” Small said. “I remember talking to him one time and he mentioned he went through a substance abuse program, that he wasn’t drinking anymore. He had a problem with alcohol and he said he’d gotten over that. It was a problem I was unaware of in covering him. It’s not like he had a reputation at the capitol for being a boozer.”
De Simone was born in upstate New York and lived in Juneau from 1981 to 1988, said Assistant District Attorney Amy Paige at De Simone’s arraignment in Juneau District Court Tuesday. De Simone’s Facebook page says he went to Juneau-Douglas High School. His legislative page said he attended Arizona State University. He returned to Juneau less than a month ago, Paige said.
De Simone wrote in an April 5 Facebook post, “I would like to make an apology to everyone for anything I may have done in office. I hope you will forgive me. My error.”