A Baker man accused in the high-profile 2018 killing of LSU basketball player Wayde Sims cannot be judged fairly by jurors picked from the Baton Rouge area, one of his attorneys told a judge Monday.

Dyteon Simpson, 21, is charged with second-degree murder in the Sept. 28, 2018, shooting death of the Sims, who was 20 when he died.

Margaret Lagattuta, an East Baton Rouge Parish assistant public defender, told 19th Judicial District Judge Ron Johnson that she soon will file a motion requesting a change of venue for the trial.

Lagattuta cited the notoriety of the case and the substantial media attention it has received. Simpson, who has pleaded not guilty and remains behind bars, does not have a trial date.

“We believe that because of the notoriety and the fact that Wayde Sims was an LSU basketball player … we think we need to go outside of the Baton Rouge area to pick a jury,” she said outside the courtroom.

Inside the courtroom, Johnson expressed skepticism over Lagattuta’s impending change of venue request, saying many homicides are committed in East Baton Rouge Parish every year.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said later that he knows of “no valid basis to support a change of venue in this case.”

Sims starred at University High and is the son of former LSU basketball player Wayne Sims, who played under then-Coach Dale Brown in the late 1980s.

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

Police have said Simpson has confessed to punching Sims' friend and then intentionally shooting Sims.

Johnson scheduled an April 7 hearing date in the case.

Simpson faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted as charged.

In June, Johnson’s twin brother, state District Judge Don Johnson, reduced Simpson's bail from $350,000 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.

Simpson had filed two bond reduction requests and sent a letter to Judge Don Johnson saying he is remorseful and pleading for a lower bond.

Judge Don Johnson is now on the 19th Judicial District Court’s civil bench. His brother, Ron, was elected to the 19th JDC in the fall and sits on the criminal bench. He is now presiding over Simpson’s case. 

Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.