Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Baton Rouge, LA: Man on trial in girlfriend’s death

Advocate staff writer
Published: May 12, 2010 - Page: 5B
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A prosecutor on Tuesday portrayed a Donaldsonville man as a “chameleon’’ who charmed Evindra Simon in 2003, hit her with his fists for the first time just six weeks later, and fatally shot her in 2006 in the parking lot of the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino.

Assistant Attorney General Paul Knight painted that picture of 38-year-old Patrick Wilson on the opening day of his second-degree murder trial in the slaying of the 28-year-old Simon, also of Donaldsonville.

John McLindon, one of Wilson’s attorneys, acknowledged to the East Baton Rouge Parish jury that Wilson and Simon were known to fight, but argued Simon was “not trapped in an abusive relationship.’’

McLindon also claimed Simon’s death was accidental, not intentional as Knight contends.

“This weren’t no suicide. This weren’t no accident,’’ Knight told the jury, adding that Simon suffered a “close-contact wound.’’

The prosecutor said Wilson intentionally shot Simon in the head with a .40-caliber pistol as they sat in a rented Jeep Liberty in a dimly lit parking lot of the casino in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 24, 2006.

Knight called Wilson a “player’’ who was not a “one-woman man.’’

McLindon called it a case of “accidental discharge of a firearm.’’

“There’s no criminal intent here,’’ he told the jury.

Abigail Moonaission testified Tuesday she was sitting in a car with Simon, her friend, in the casino parking lot when Wilson pulled up behind them in the Jeep. Simon got into the front passenger seat of Wilson’s vehicle, and seconds later a single shot rang out, she said.

“He said she tried to grab the gun and it went off,’’ Moonaission testified Wilson told her after she got into the back seat of the Jeep.

Wilson dropped her and Simon off at Baton Rouge General Medical Center-Mid City and then drove off, Moonaission said.

McLindon said Wilson left with the intention of telling Simon’s mother, but never made it to her house.

Simon later died at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.

The trial resumes today in state District Judge Tony Marabella’s courtroom.

Second-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

There are four possible verdicts in the case: guilty of second-degree murder, guilty of manslaughter, guilty of negligent homicide, or not guilty.

An East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury indicted Wilson on the second-degree murder charge in December 2006. Wilson was charged last December with obstruction of justice.

That charge says that on Sept. 24, 2006, Wilson tampered with the vehicle, which he “moved or removed along with all evidentiary contents, including … a gun and cell phone.’’

Knight said Wilson surrendered to Baton Rouge police two days after the shooting but did not turn over the gun, bullet casing or Simon’s cell phone.

The prosecutor said one of Wilson’s attorneys turned the gun in seven months later. It was registered in Simon’s name.

McLindon said Simon bought the gun during the serial-killer probe that eventually led to the arrest and conviction of Derrick Todd Lee.

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