Wrongfully Imprisoned in Louisiana Since 1977: Free Vincent Simmons

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By Tiffany Flournoy, Investigative JournalistHelp

Since 1977, Vincent Simmons has maintained his innocence. For 43 years he’s been legally trying to prove it. Now, at 68-years-old, despite a series of judicial roadblocks and dead ends,  he continues to fight for his freedom from the clinches of imprisonment at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola.

New evidence obtained by his new attorney firmly suggests Simmons was robbed of a fair trial and prosecutors failed to turn over discovery files to the defense in 1977.  Other evidence further supports  his innocence. 

Let’s petition Louisiana officials to set him free from the bondage of this broken judicial system. 

From the start I was and am innocent of these charges. I knew one day God would send His messengers and soldiers to aid me when he was ready. God is the Light so we are the light,” Simmons said from prison.

Without any evidence of a rape and following a botched two-day trial in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, Simmons, who is Black, was convicted  of the attempted aggravated rape of two white girls (twins). He had Initially been accused and charged with aggravated rape. Simmons was convicted of the alleged Marksville crime by a jury of 11 white men and one Black woman just 51 days after his arrest. 

Now four decades later, new evidence in the case firmly supports  that Simmons did not receive a fair trial. A supplemental memo filed Oct 23, 2020, in the 12th Judicial District states that discovery was never turned over to Simmons’ defense 43 years ago. The memo was filed on the heels of an Oct 20, 2020 motion to vacate Simmons’ conviction and sentence and a post-conviction relief application. 

According to the sworn affidavit of Alan Holmes, an Avoyelles Parish community leader, on Oct .20 Avoyelles Parish District Attorney Charles Riddle admitted to Holmes and Simmons’ attorney Justin Bonus, that Simmons’ trial attorney Harold Brouillette never received the discovery file prior to trial.

The memorandum also states that Riddle conceded that multiple documents were not turned over to the defense in 1977, including the report of the medical examiner who examined both of the alleged rape victims; the arrest report,; audio recordings; and the statements of the alleged victims gave to police.

​In 2020, relatives of the alleged victims came forward claiming the entire story against Simmons was fabricated by the alleged victims and their cousin to cover a family secret of inappropriate sexual behavior within the family.

“This is a story you might hear when speaking of Jim Crow and the rape myth involving Black men and white women that resulted in so many tragic lynchings and wrongful convictions," said Bonus.

On Oct 20, based on the new evidence, Avoyelles Parish District Judge Kerry Spruill ordered an evidentiary hearing for Feb. 17, 2021.  The hearing date will mark Vincent’s 69th birthday.

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