Monday, March 20

LSU basketball player Wayde Sims died 3½ years ago; accused killer goes to trial Monday

Three and a half years ago, LSU and the Baton Rouge community were rocked by the shocking shooting death of Tigers basketball player Wayde Sims.

On Monday, jury selection is set to begin at the trial of a Baker man charged with second-degree murder in Sims’ slaying.

Dyteon Simpson, 23,½ faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted as charged. He pleaded not guilty in early 2019 and remains jailed.

Simpson is accused of shooting Sims, 20, in the face with a 9 mm pistol on Sept. 28, 2018, after Sims intervened during a fistfight to defend a friend outside a fraternity party just off the Southern University campus.

Investigators said they received many tips after releasing a video of the fight and asking for the public’s help prior to an arrest being made. The video shows about eight men in the street fighting, with three or four of them throwing punches. Two men, eventually identified as Sims and Simpson, break from the group and a single shot is then fired.

DNA evidence retrieved from a pair of glasses found on the scene matched a DNA sample that Simpson gave investigators, authorities said. The glasses were knocked off the shooter’s face during the fight, according to witness statements contained in an arrest report.

Baton Rouge Police homicide detective Logan Collins, who interviewed Simpson after his arrest, testified during a 2019 hearing that Simpson initially told him he was at home at the time of the shooting. Simpson then said he had attended a concert near the shooting but went home afterward. Simpson finally told the detective he was at the shooting, Collins said.

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Simpson confessed to punching Sims’ friend and then intentionally shooting Sims, police have said.

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Sims starred at University High before playing at LSU. His father, Wayne Sims, played basketball at LSU under then-Coach Dale Brown in the late 1980s.

Simpson’s attorney, Margaret Lagattuta, believes her client cannot get a fair trial before East Baton Rouge Parish jurors because of extensive media coverage of the case.

Prosecutor Jermaine Guillory noted at a hearing last year that Simpson undoubtedly has a right to an impartial jury, but he said the local community should decide the fate of the case because the homicide occurred in this community.

State District Judge Will Jorden ruled last summer that the defense’s change of venue motion was premature because prospective jurors have not been questioned.

Simpson wrote a letter in 2019 to state District Judge Don Johnson, who was presiding over the case at the time, saying he was “totally remorseful” for the “unfortunate” killing and pleading that his $350,000 bail be lowered.

Johnson later reduced Simpson’s bail to $149,000 solely to allow him to take part in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison programs not available to inmates with bails greater than $150,000.

Collins, the homicide detective, also testified in 2019 that photographs were retrieved from Simpson’s cellphone showing him holding firearms with extended magazines. Another photo showed him pointing a gun into the camera.

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