Release Vincent Simmons, an innocent man jailed in Louisiana for the past 40 years.
Vincent Simmons is a prisoner at Angola State Prison in Louisiana. He was a subject of the 1997 HBO documentary "The Farm: Life In Angola Prison," as well as the follow-up documentary "Shadows of Doubt." We can talk all day long about generalities, or we can really and truly examine many cases, one by one if necessary, to expose the issues that so many people blandly post about, speak on, and protest. The generalities we all find offensive have faces and names attached to them, and far too often, are serving extremely excruciatingly long prison sentences. Far too many of them are innocent and if we just take the time to READ and ACQUAINT ourselves with the details of each case, we might truly come to grips with the horrors of racism, illegal incarceration of innocent African-Americans in a society that doesn't care about their innocence. It is simply astounding that this man has yet to be released. Make no mistake, there are thousands of Vincent Simmons out there in various prisons. This innocent man has spent the last 40 years of his life locked up for no discernible reason except for the color of his skin, and there he will die if nothing is done to free him. Say something. Do something. Speak up. It is as if we are living in an occupied country and we are prisoners-of-war. When are we going to start to put an end to this madness? Anyway, please read this story. This was just in 1977, not 1877.......and as you can see from the picture the "line-up", he was the only handcuffed. That alone should have been suspect. May 9, 1977.[When asked why they picked this particular man out the two girls say, "All n*ggers look the same to us."] The girls do not tell anybody about the "rape" incident until almost two weeks later on May 22, 1977, when Karen Sanders tells her first cousin. The incident is reported to the police on the same day. Sharon and Karen Sanders tell Sheriff "Potch" Didier, Major Fabius Didier, Captain Floyd Juneau and Deputy Barbara DeCuir of the Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's office that, "...a black man raped us."While inside the police station, they wrongly identify another black man as their attacker. When asked why they picked this particular man out they say, "All n*ggers look the same to us." They provide a basic description. "Black, short hair, 160 lbs, 5-8", age 19-20. Color of eyes. Not known. They cannot name the alleged rapist because according to their first statements, neither Keith, Sharon nor Karen ever hear the man mention his name. At 9:00 am the next day, May 23, 1977, Vincent Simmons is walking down Waddil Street in Marksville when a police patrol car stops alongside him. Captain Floyd Juneau and Lieutenant Robert Laborde (a relative of Keith Laborde, who was with the two girls) arrest Simmons for two counts of aggravated rape. They do not have a reliable description, an arrest warrant or a probable cause to justify taking Vincent Simmons into custody. ➡ PAY ATTENTION: At the police station, Captain Melvin Villemarette organizes a line-up that consists of seven black men and a lone white man, who looks slightly bemused by events. Vincent Simmons is the only man in the line-up that is wearing handcuffs. Keith Laborde and the twins, who are hidden from view behind a glass screen, point at number 4 as the knife wielding black man who raped them at gunpoint on Little California Road two weeks previously. Despite their crass remark that "...all n*ggers look the same to us," not only do they immediately recognize Vincent Simmons they also remember his name. Other than the testimony of Keith Laborde, and Sharon and Karen Sanders, there is no physical evidence offered against Vincent Simmons. Not a single fingerprint nor a strand of hair or a fiber of clothing is recovered from the car that Vincent Simmons allegedly drove around for more than an hour. Sharon Sanders alleges that her underwear was stained with blood and semen. Unfortunately, both girls wash all their clothes, including the underwear, thoroughly - and then wait two weeks to report being violently raped by a black man holding a switch-blade knife and a large gun. Even in 1977, detailed forensic evidence was available to investigation officers. If Vincent Simmons was in that car and raped those girls, he would have left fingerprints everywhere, not to mention a host of bodily fluids. No forensic evidence was found in the car or it would have been placed before the court.Indeed, no physical evidence of any sort was offered against Vincent Simmons. For reasons that became obvious at a later date, even the girls' medical reports, conducted by the Coroner of Avoyelles Parish, F.P. Bordelon, were withheld by the prosecution. Apart from the complete lack of any physical evidence, the prosecution also contravene all the rules of court procedure by revealing Vincent Simmons previous criminal convictions. A breach of protocol that should, at the very least, have led to a retrial. But it didn't. Nothing the Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's Department or Louisiana Justice System did, rightly or wrongly, seems to make much difference to this case. Somebody had to go down for the alleged rape of the two sisters, and Vincent Simmons, who acknowledges he was not a pillar of society, was the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time. With no physical evidence and several witnesses testifying that Vincent Simmons was elsewhere at the time of the alleged rape, there is more than a reasonable doubt as to the perpetrator's identity. It makes no difference. He is convicted solely on the testimony of the alleged victims. The jury, despite knowing the severity of the sentence for attempted aggravated rape, is out for less than one hour before returning with a guilty verdict. On July 28, 1977, Vincent Alfred Simmons is sentenced to 50 years on each count, to run consecutively. He will serve 100 years.....100 YEARS! There is a question that bothers most people who read about this case. Why did the prosecution withhold the medical reports? Surely, the reports would have been the smoking gun that proved Vincent Simmons' guilt. Not really. It was more than twenty years later in 1997 before Vincent Simmons manages to acquire the medical reports that were hidden from the court. Had the jury known the content contained in these reports, they would surely have found Vincent Simmons innocent of all charges. Considering both girls say they were violently raped at gunpoint, both vaginally and anally, F.P. Bordelon, the coroner who examined the girls, found no bruises on either of them. He also wrote the following about Sharon Sanders: "There were no bruises on her body. The vaginal examination showed that the hymen was intact and I was unable to insert one examining finger." THE HYMEN WAS INTACT!!! Now we know why these medical reports were never used by the prosecution, and, more to the point, why they were never made available to the defense. It really couldn't be any clearer. When Sharon Sanders was examined on June 10, 1977, she was still a virgin. SHE WAS STILL A VIRGIN.....are you paying attention? The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's Department investigation into the rape of Karen and Sharon Sanders transgressed just about every protocol of recognized police procedure, turning it into an organized witch-hunt, which descended upon the head of the first black man they placed in the frame - the unfortunate Vincent Simmons, who just happened to be strolling through Marksville one sunny day. The District Attorney's Office now joined the police in the deceit by withholding documents from the court and denying Simmons a constructive defense. The documents are eventually released twenty years later under duress, documents that would have created reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury members. This was not an indiscriminate, or thoughtless oversight, it was the kind of oversight engineered behind closed doors, the kind of mistake that requires a special effort by misguided people in positions of power. There are just too many anomalies for it to have been anything other than orchestrated. Anomalies such as: (1) The police did not interview one independent witness to validate the statements given by Keith Laborde and Sharon and Karen Sanders, statements that changed significantly when they took the witness stand. (2) The defense did not conduct any pre-trial investigations. They allowed the prosecution to portray Karen and Sharon Sanders as two little girls who were pure and innocent. In fact, both girls were suspended from their school, they both used drugs (Karen admitted to carrying dope in her bra) and they stole the petrol they put in the car on the night of May 9, 1977. (3) Karen Sanders stated that she left her panties behind on Little California Road. They were never recovered. Police records now indicate that neither the car nor the area around Little California Road was ever searched for evidence. Which was why forensic evidence was thin on the ground and the justice system had to rely on the uncorroborated and contradictory evidence of two minors. (4) For instance. On the witness stand, Karen and Sharon Sanders testified that the assailant waved a gun around and threatened them with a switch-blade. In the initial statement given to police on May 22, 1977, no mention is made of any weapons being brandished by the assailant. (5) In the initial statement the name of the assailant is not known because Keith Laborde and the two sisters state categorically that names were never mentioned. However, on the witness stand both girls contradict themselves by testifying that the assailant used the name "Simmons" on several occasions. The defense counsel does not raise an objection to the obvious discrepancy between statement and testimony. Several further discrepancies are allowed to stand unchallenged. (6) Keith Laborde and Karen and Sharon Sanders gave a description of the assailant that was so lacking in detail as to be meaningless - and yet, Vincent Simmons was arrested and then picked out of a line-up by two girls who had just stated they couldn't really describe what the alleged rapist looked like because "...all n*ggers look the same to us." Doesn't that last statement tell you all you need to know about these people?To understand exactly what is happening to an innocent man, one has to have seen the parole hearing that Vincent Simmons attended in 1997. It was part of an HBO documentary called "The Farm" filmed in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. If slavery was still in operation today this is what it would look like. Despite Vincent Simmons showing them the line-up picture with the handcuffs and the newly released medical reports, and explaining in great detail what happened when he was shot in the chest by one of the Sheriff's deputies, it took these two clowns less than a minute to deny parole and send Vincent Simmons back to his cell for another twenty years. There was also a token black man on the parole board panel. But having been verbally bullied by Louisiana's answer to Itchy and Scratchy, he had so little of consequence to contribute to the decision that his presence was irrelevant.There are just so many anomalies about this miscarriage of justice that it is not practical to list them all in this petition. The word that keeps popping up is "why." Why did the Sheriff's Department not investigate the crime in a professional manner? Why did the legal system deny this man justice in 1977? Why is the State of Louisiana still denying him justice now? What is it we still haven't found out about this case? What is it that we don't know? Vincent Simmons never made a statement about the events that occurred on the night of May 9, 1977, in Little California Road, Marksville, Louisiana. He couldn't. He wasn't there.Write Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal TODAY and demand for this man's release. Sign this petition!!!!!