Clemency for Darius Simmons
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This is a case of blatant "over" and "unfair" sentencing of a first time offender, and we need your support and assistance in obtaining relief ...first time offender due to prosecutorial misconduct, and we are seeking relief on behalf of Darius Simmons.
In the case of Commonwealth v. Darius Simmons (Case No.: CR07000574-00, CR07000575-00, CR07000576-00, CR07000737-00, CR07000738-00, and CR07000832-00), Darius Simmons was charged in connection with several crimes of which he did NOT commit, along with several crimes of which he openly admits that he did commit and takes full responsibility for.
In this case Mr. Simmons took a plea to merge the charges resulting from two (2) separate offenses. The first offense took place on December 20, 2006. The second offense took place on January 7, 2007.
In the first offense, Mr. Simmons was hanging out with two (2) other individuals at a common drug house in the neighborhood. The two other individuals had a discrepancy with a drug addict whom frequented said drug house. The discrepancy resulted in a 'physical confrontation between the two individuals and the drug addict. The drug addict, being the victim, gave a statement to the police wherein he never mentioned Mr. Simmons.
In the second offense, Mr. Simmons rode with a relative (his cousin) to 'drop off at home' a friend of His cousin. On the way Mr. Simmons fell asleep.... Shortly after said friend was picked up, Mr. Simmons fell asleep in the vehicle. Mr. Simmons awoke to screams and gun fire as said friend repeatedly yelled, "he's hit, he's hit". As Mr. Simmons ducked for cover in fear of his life, his cousin was shot in the face. In a shocked and panic driven state, Mr. Simmons managed to get ahold of one of the firearms in the vehicle and returned what is known as "cover-fire" as he struggled his way into the drivers seat and sped away to safety. Mr. Simmons cousin died, said friend was shot in the leg.
Mr. Simmons turned himself in and handed over the firearm that he used, all in efforts to take full responsibility for his actions in light of the facts and overall circumstances. This all took place in Suffolk, Virginia. These two separate offenses resulted in three (3) separate co-defendants. Two separate co-defendants from the 12/20/06 case (one of which plead guilty, received 11 years and was released in 2017). The other co-defendant from the 1/7/2007 case plead guilty, received 10 years, and was released in 2016.
During the trial phase, Mr. Simmons was persuaded by his attorney to plea guilty under the notion that he would receive no more than a nine (9) year and two (2) month sentence, of which was offered as the highest range (amongst other lower ranges) of sentences by the prosecution via said plea agreement. Mr. Simmons truly believed that he would be able to right his wrongs for his actions (and his actions alone) by serving up to the nine (9) year and two (2) month sentence, and therefore accepted the plea agreement. However, once Mr. Simmons agreed to the plea agreement, the prosecutor argued against the sentencing guidelines as provided under the terms of the plea agreement and convinced the judge to give a sentence that was outside and far beyond the sentencing ceiling of nine (9) years and two (2) months.
Mr. Simmons was ultimately sentenced to twenty-two years....
Mr. Simmons was ultimately sentenced to twenty-two (22) years despite the understanding of a nine (9)Â years and two (2) months maximum sentence that he had with his attorney. His attorney, obviously acknowledging the error, provided an affidavit regarding him telling Mr. Simmons to take the plea agreement and that said plea agreement had a ceiling of nine (9) years and two (2) months.
Mr. Simmons, by all means, sought to do the right thing by turning himself in, handing over the firearm that he used, admitting to the crimes that he himself committed, and taking the plea agreement to serve up to a nine (9) year and two (2) month sentence for his actions. This conduct illustrates a will to do the right thing on Mr. Simmons part. However, the conduct of the prosecution in exercising such deceitful tactics to secure the conviction in this case is unacceptable. This was a case of "bait and switch" on behalf of the prosecution in efforts to secure the conviction in this case, and that is unethical. It is detrimentally unfair for citizens to be held to standards if individuals operating under the color of law will not be held to the same. In the eyes of the people, the "bait and switch" tactic is blatant fraud and should be deemed as error constituting extraordinary circumstances warranting the desired relief of a sentence commute in this case.
Mr. Simmons quotes:
"I understand that even though I acted in fear of my life regarding the crimes committed on January 7, 2007, the fact that I gained possession of and fired that firearm was wrong; and therefore, I accept full responsibility for my actions, but in all fairness, I only take responsibility for MY actions alone and not the actions of another. I had absolutely no intention to harm anyone. I only wanted to get out of that situation alive. Just seeing that happen was a tough, and severely traumatizing experience. As to the offenses that were committed on December 20, 2006 I was merely a bystander. Although I regret not trying to do something to stop what happened, I wish people would truly understand that I am non-confrontational. I had a bad habit of hanging in the wrong places. For the crime that I committed, I believe that I've repaid my debts to society as I have served over ten (10) years, and I am a better man. My family needs me and God knows its killing me not being able to be there for them. I've used my time incarcerated to better myself.
I have maintained employment from institution to institution, completed anger management, got my GED, completed and received several vocational trades (i.e., "custodial maintenance"; and "smoke, fire, and water restoration"). I'm also currently enrolled in vocational class to complete and receive an electrical trade, of which shall be complete as of the end June 2018. "
The mandatory minimum in the state of Virginia for possession of a firearm is three (3) years for a first offense, and five (5) years for each subsequent offense. The mandatory minimum for discharging a firearm is a monetary fine. In this case these two offenses were the only offenses that Mr. Simmons committed, and given the circumstances, he did what any person in fear of his or her life would do. This was Mr. Simmons first offense and yet he received a lengthy sentence as though he was a career criminal. The time by far does NOT fit the crime, and therefore, we move the honorable governor to grant Mr. Simmons clemency in this case via a sentence commute.
Article 5, section 12 of the Virginia Constitution grants the Governor the power "to grant reprieves and pardons after conviction." See Va. Code § 53.1-229. The Governor has the authority to order the Virginia Parole Board "to investigate and report to the Governor on cases in which executive clemency is sought [and] --- to report to the Governor with its recommendations."
WHEREFORE, we, the supporters of this petition for clemency on behalf of Mr. Simmons in the above mentioned case, and in support of any pending petition for clemency in this case, moves the honorable Governor of Virginia and the designated review personnel to grant relief in this case.
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