Jury convicts Baton Rouge man in 2007 killing of 61-year-old on Blue Grass Drive _lowres

Symond Taylor

Symond “Mon” Taylor, on trial in an October 2007 killing, confessed that he killed a 61-year-old Baton Rouge man whose body was found with a gunshot wound to the face, according to testimony Wednesday.

Dzanduria Singleton testified she was riding in a car with Taylor in early November 2007 when he made the startling confession about the death of Wilbert Livious. The woman, who admitted smoking crack cocaine daily from 2007 to 2014 and is a convicted felon, added that she also saw a pistol on the driver’s side floorboard.

“He said, ‘I killed somebody.’ I looked at him. I said, ‘You killed somebody?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I killed that man Wilbert,’ ” said Singleton, the prosecution’s first witness at Taylor’s second-degree murder trial.

East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Will Morris told the jury in his opening statement earlier Wednesday that Taylor’s father, in mid-2008, turned over to federal authorities a 9 mm handgun that his son had left at his house.

Morris said the Ruger pistol was shown to be the weapon that killed Livious in his Blue Grass Drive home. His body was found Oct. 20, 2007. The prosecutor said the killer used a blanket to muffle the sound of the gunshot. The blanket had a bullet hole in it.

Taylor, 34, wasn’t indicted in the cold-case murder until October 2014. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted as charged. Neither Taylor’s DNA nor fingerprints were found on the gun or in Livious’ ransacked home.

“Nothing in that house, zero, matches my client,” Taylor’s attorney, Margaret Lagattuta, told the jury in her opening statement. “They can’t put my client in that house.”

Lagattuta charged that police finally decided seven years after the murder to go forward with the case to “clean out” their cold-case files.

“This is not just a weak case. There is no case,” she said. “They think he did it. They (police) sat on this case because guess what — not enough evidence.”

Taylor is being held in federal custody after being sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 on drug and weapons charges. He pleaded guilty in Baton Rouge federal court to distribution of crack cocaine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The latter charge stemmed from his 2004 cocaine possession conviction in Baton Rouge state court.

Morris told the jury that Livious was killed for $1,800 — money he intended to use to buy a car. The prosecutor argued that Taylor knew about the money.

“That’s what Wilbert Livious’ life was worth to Symond Taylor,” he said.

Lagattuta, who noted that cocaine was found in Livious’ system at the time of his death, called Singleton a “junkie” and “manipulator” who only spoke with police after she was arrested.

Singleton, who said she has convictions for burglary and unauthorized use of a movable, testified she hasn’t used drugs for 18 months and has no reason to lie.

The trial will resume Thursday in state District Judge Beau Higginbotham’s courtroom.