Dorsey Sims.jpg

Dorsey Sims

A Baker man was sentenced to 25 years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the 2014 bludgeoning death of a man whose remains were found two years later wrapped in a tarp along an Iberville Parish bayou.

Dorsey Joseph Sims was scheduled to stand trial this week on a second-degree murder charge in the killing of Charles "C.J." Hills Jr. A conviction on that charge would have carried a mandatory term of life in prison.

Sims, flanked by defense lawyers Tiffany Foxworth and Joel Porter, instead entered what is known as a "best-interest" plea to manslaughter, telling state District Judge Don Johnson he was doing so “not because I’m guilty.”

The father of seven children ranging in age from 5 to 25 said he couldn’t risk being put behind bars for the rest of his life and not seeing his family.

“I’m 44 and I got 25 years for a crime I didn’t commit,” he said. “You ain’t got nothing physical on me.”

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said no DNA evidence or other physical evidence was available due to the extended length of time between the homicide and the discovery and identification of the remains.

Hills disappeared in January 2014. Skeletal remains found in October 2016 off La. 77 near Rosedale were identified in March 2017 as  Hills. An East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury indicted Sims six months later.

Hills’ father, Charles Hills Sr., was not in the courtroom when Sims pleaded guilty but said later in a brief telephone interview that he’s been dealing with his son’s death for 5 ½ years.

“I’m just thank God for bringing this to a conclusion,” he said.

Moore applauded the efforts of the Iberville Parish sheriff’s and coroner’s offices, Baton Rouge Police Department, LSU FACES Lab, Louisiana State Police Crime Lab as well as his office’s investigative staff.

Prosecutor Dana Cummings said inside the courtroom that Sims was living with Hills on Prescott Road in Baton Rouge in 2014 when Sims accused Hills of taking drugs from him. Baton Rouge police have said evidence suggested Hills was killed in the Baton Rouge area, and his body was dumped in Iberville.

Sims’ cellphone records showed him traveling from the Prescott Road area to the Rosedale area in the early morning hours of Jan. 12, 2014, detectives have said.

Cummings has said Sims, who was in jail in the fall of 2016 on unrelated charges, made incriminating statements in recorded jail calls and in a recorded jail visitation indicating he knew that the recovered body was Hills — months before the identity of the remains were announced.

“These phone calls and the visitation contain the defendant’s admissions … proving that he knew that the body recovered was Charles “C.J.” Hills and that he was apprehensive about the ramifications of the discovery of the remains,” Cummings wrote in a court filing earlier this year.

Cummings said in court Tuesday that Hills was bludgeoned to death, probably with a hammer. He died of blunt force trauma to the head.

Sims’ brother, Dandre Brown, also was booked in 2017 on second-degree murder in Hills’ death, but the same grand jury that indicted Sims took no action against Brown.

Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.